CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND SCRIPTURE


University of San Francisco


James T. Bretzke, S.J.

 


Table of Contents


 

I.         INTRODUCTION

 

II.        CONTEXT FOR THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

III.       INTRODUCTION TO THE FOUR SECTOR MODEL OF MORAL METHODOLOGY

 

IV.      ELABORATION OF THE FOUR SECTOR GRID FOR ACCESSING THE SOURCES OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

V.        MEDIATION FACTORS OF ONE'S WORLD THEOLOGICAL VIEW

 

VI.      THE HERMENEUTIC DIMENSION OF MEDIATION OF EXPERIENCE AND WORLD-VIEW

 

VII.     FROM METHODOLOGY TO FOUNDATIONAL ISSUES ON SCRIPTURE & ETHICS

 

VIII.    SCRIPTURE AND ETHICS: INTER AND INTRA-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

 

IX.      VARIOUS MODELS FOR THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

X.        INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

XI.      SCRIPTURE AS A KEY SOURCE FOR MORAL THEOLOGY (Roman Catholic Excursus)

 

XII.     STAGE 1: SCRIPTURE IN THE RENEWAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY

 

XIII.    ANALYSIS OF DEI VERBUM

 

XIV.   HERMENEUTICAL THEORY FOR USE OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

XV.     SCRIPTURE AS THE COMMAND OF GOD

 

XVI.   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMATIC WITH DIVINE COMMAND ETHICS

 

XVII.  RELATIONSHIP AMONG CHRISTOLOGY, SCRIPTURE, AND ETHICS

 

XVIII. BACKGROUND TO NEO-ORTHODOXY MOVEMENT

 

XIX.   KARL BARTH: THE COMMAND OF GOD

 

XX.     DIETRICH BONHOEFFER'S APPROACH

 

XXI.   SUMMARY OF DIVINE COMMAND APPROACH

 

XXII.  SCRIPTURE AS MORAL REMINDER

 

XXIV. BRUNO SCHÜLLER'S APPROACH TO ETHICS

 

XXV.  HISTORICAL/THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND OF SCRIPTURE AS CALL TO LIBERATION

 

XXVI. FRAMING OF INTERPLAY BETWEEN SCRIPTURE AND ETHICS IN LIBERATION AND FEMINIST THEOLOGY

 

XXVII.           KEY BIBLICAL THEMES USED IN LIBERATION THEOLOGY

 

XXVIII.          THEOLOGICAL METHOD OF LIBERATION THEOLOGY

 

XXIX. CRITICAL AND CORRECTIVE ASPECTS OF THEOLOGICAL METHOD OF LIBERATION AND FEMINIST THEOLOGY

 

XXXII.           INTRODUCTION TO NIEBUHR'S THEOLOGY RESPONSE TO REVELATION

 

XXXIII.          BACKGROUND OF H. RICHARD NIEBUHR'S ETHICS OF RESPONSIBILITY: FOUR FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS

 

XXXIV.          INTERPRETING EVENTS: "WHAT IS GOD DOING IN MY/OUR SITUATION?"

 

XXXV.           JESUS CHRIST AS THE CHRISTIANS' KEY SYMBOL

 

XXXVI.          NOTION OF THE (RESPONSIBLE) SELF & MORAL BECOMING

 

XXXVII.        SYMBOLS FOR THE "REASONING HEART"

 

XXXVIII.       STORY AND SELF-UNDERSTANDING

 

XXXIX.          CONVERSION THROUGH REVELATION

 

XL.     NIEBUHR'S UNDERSTANDING OF CHRISTIAN REVELATION

 

XLI.    USE OF SCRIPTURE IN RESPONDING TO REVELATION

 

XLII.   CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

 

XLIII. SUMMARY COMMENTS ON THE DISCIPLESHIP APPROACH

 

XLIV. DISCIPLESHIP ETHICS IN THE WORK OF JOHN HOWARD YODER

 

XLV.  THE CHRISTIAN ETHICS OF STANLEY HAUERWAS

 

XLVI. CRITIQUE OF NIEBUHR AND HAUERWAS

 

XLVII.            SCRIPTURE AS BASIS FOR RESPONDING LOVE

 

I.         SPOHN'S REVISED MODEL OF SCRIPTURE AS BASIS FOR RESPONDING LOVE

 

II.        GUIDELINES ON THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN RESPONDING TO REVELATION

 

III.       PROBLEMATIC APPROACHES TO USE OF SCRIPTURE IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

IV.      5-STEP METHODOLOGY FOR APPLICATION OF SCRIPTURE TO MORAL ISSUES

 

V.        BIBLIOGRAPHIC OVERVIEW OF ETHICS IN THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES

 

VI.      BASIC APPROACH TO THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES AND/OR OLD TESTAMENT

 

VIII.    PRINCIPAL THEMES IN OLD TESTAMENT ETHICS

 

IX.      EVALUATION OF THE USE OF THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES FOR CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

X.        OVERVIEW OF PRINCIPAL NEW TESTAMENT ETHICAL THEMES

 

XI.      PLACE OF SCRIPTURE IN CONTEMPORARY NATURAL LAW REFLECTION

 

XII.     NEW TESTAMENT SEXUAL ETHICS

 

XIII.    HOMOSEXUALITY AS A TEST-CASE FOR BIBLICAL ETHICS

 

XIV.   PAUL ON APOSTOLIC CELIBACY: A KEY FOR CHRISTIAN SEXUAL ETHICS

 

XV.     SCRIPTURE, LITURGY, PRAYER, AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

XVI.   EVALUATION OF THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN MORAL THEOLOGY





 


CHRISTIAN ETHICS AND SCRIPTURE


University of San Francisco


James T. Bretzke, S.J.


 

I.         INTRODUCTION     [Xerox handouts: Syllabus and Notes Outline]

 

            A.        OPENING PRAYER

 

                        1.         From St. Jerome's Prologue of the Commentary on Isaiah (Breviary Reading for 30 September, St. Jerome's Memorial Celebration)

 

                        2.         "I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: Your erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the one [man] who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."

 

            B.        Personal (brief)

 

 

II.        CONTEXT FOR THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

            A.        Preliminary Considerations

 

                        1.         What is Scripture and What is Ethics?

 

                        2.         Difference of approach, etc. based on religious denomination

 

                                    a.         E.g. fundamentalist

 

                                    b.         liberal Protestant

 

                                    c.         Roman Catholic, etc.

 

                        3.         This course will be more in dialogue with Roman Catholic tradition, though the readings, etc., manifest a clear debt to Protestant authors, and will have a strong concern for ecumenical input.

 

                        4.         Scripture and the proprium of Christian ethics

 

                                    a.         In this section some of the interesting moral theological questions come to the fore, such as the nature of the proprium of Christian ethics, and the whole debate over moral autonomy and Glaubensethik.

 

                                    b.         We will have occasion to mention this issue of the proprium of Christian ethics again, but at this point it is sufficient to note the issue's existence and importance.

 

            B.        Involve antecedent understanding of the definition/description of moral theology or Christian ethics: see handout on various “definitions of moral theology and/or Christian ethics.


 

III.       INTRODUCTION TO THE FOUR SECTOR MODEL OF MORAL METHODOLOGY


 

            A.        Sources and "Languages" of moral theology (Roman Catholic) or Christian ethics (Protestant)

 

                        1.         Traditional understanding of "fonts" or sources of Roman Catholic moral theology listed three:

 

                                    a.         Scripture

 

                                    b.         Tradition

 

                                    c.         Magisterium

 

                        2.         Protestant ethics of course had different “fonts,” perhaps best characterized by the solas

 

                                    a.         Sola scriptura

 

                                    b.         Sola fide

 

                                    c.         Sola gratia

 

                                    d.         Solus Christus

 

                        3.         We’ll return to the tradition(s) of Protestant ethics a bit later, but for now I’d like to continue the discussion using the example of Roman Catholic moral theology

 

                        4.         For Roman Catholicism these “fonts” were utilized and presented according to the mode or genre of the manualist tradition

 

                                    a.         Which started with the current teaching of the Magisterium at that particular time on a given issue,

 

                                    b.         And then worked back to Scripture and the Tradition

 

                                    c.         To demonstrate how this teaching was harmonious and constant through the ages.

 

                        5.         Thus, need to pay attention to how these three were inter-related and prioritized at various times throughout history,

 

                        6.         as well as to note how each is conceived of and interpreted itself.

 

                        7.         In answering this last question first, the notion of various "languages" can be helpful.

 

                                    a.         Nod to Wittgenstein's understanding of language

 

                                    b.         "Wittgenstein was, in his later work, extremely sensitive to the different cultures and `language games' in the world.

 

                                                (1)       "In the same way that each game has a different set of rules so has each culture.

 

                                                (2)       "One cannot be checkmate [sic] in a game of basketball for that is to confuse the rules of two different games.

 

                                                (3)       "So, argued Wittgenstein, it is equally inappropriate to use scientific language in a religious context or for that matter to judge a non-scientific culture by a scientific western rationality."

 

                                                (4)       Ian S. Markham, Plurality and Christian Ethics, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994): 137.

 

                                    c.         Wittgenstein spoke more in terms of different cultures, but I would argue that the same concept can be applied to the internal language of the individual source itself.

 

                        8.         Recognition of the diversity of "languages" employed by the different moral sources

 

                                    a.         Languages which will have different vocabularies, syntax and grammar,

 

                                    b.         Languages which can speak to one another, but which are NOT identical

 

                                    c.         Therefore, be careful not to use the language of normative moral philosophy when speaking of a biblical parable, and vice versa.

 

            B.        Introductory note on dangers to avoid, or negative tendencies to work against

 

                        1.         Tendency to narrow the range of a particular sector, e.g., to identify all of Tradition with only the writings of a particular Church Father, theologian (such as Thomas Aquinas), or a particular member or segment of the Magisterium, or preferred author, school of thought, etc. (e.g. Christian Coalition, Jesus Seminar, AAR/SBL, etc.).

 

                        2.         Tendency to exaggerate the voice of one sector so that it drowns out the others,

 

                        3.         Or the tendency to ignore or shortchange the input from a particular sector or sub-sector.

 

                        4.         Also need to guard against retroactive anachronistic readings of the various sources, especially from Scripture and Tradition

 

                                    a.         Don’t be reductionistic

 

                                    b.         Don’t evaluate authors, texts, and/or past interpretations too harshly in light of contemporary concerns, insights, and sensibilities.

 

                                    c.         For example, it wouldn’t be overly helpful to dismiss all of Thomas Aquinas as irrelevant because of his antiquated biology, or the problems in his theological anthropology in reference to women, etc.

 

            C.        Since this is a course on Scripture and Ethics it might good to look at some practical Considerations for selection and application the mode(s) of moral discourse: the "6 C's"

 

                        1.         Comprehensive in relation to the issue and problem

 

                                    a.         Does it treat the problem and issue in its complexity and completeness?

 

                                    b.         Are there aspects, etc., which tend to be ignored, condemned as irrelevant, etc.?

 

                        2.         Comprehensible, i.e., "understandable"

 

                                    a.         Is the mode of discourse comprehensible by a variety of people, ecumenical, etc.?

 

                                    b.         Does the language employ philosophical and/or religious belief systems which people use and understand?

 

                                    c.         Be careful, especially in pastoral work, of using too much "jargon" (fundamental option, intrinsically evil acts, etc.)

 

                                    d.         Yet, make sure that key concepts are understood

 

                        3.         Consistent (Internally Coherent)

 

                                    a.         Are the modes of argumentation, usage of moral sources, positions taken, etc. internally coherent

 

                                    b.         And externally consistent with similar issues, cases, etc.?

 

                        4.         Credible

 

                                    a.         in the sense of being "believable" or "plausible"

 

                                    b.         thus, a person of sound reason could logically hold this position

 

                                    c.         In this regard, the "credibility" or "plausibility" of our positions will have to be tested against the experts of a particular field.

 

                                    d.         E.g., if we are to discuss or pronounce on ecological matter we have to get input from experts in the field, as well as test our responses with them.

 

                                    e.         This whole area of "expert testimony" is a delicate area in matters such as marriage, sexual ethics, and the like, including business ethics, politics, etc.–areas in which the Church has been criticized for not developing a sufficiently credible and realistic moral discourse.

 

                                    f.         Thus, dialogue, with its concomitant methodology is key here. No genuine dialogue reduces or eliminates credibility.

 

                                    g.         However, a reluctance or refusal to dialogue will most likely have only the opposite effect of rendering one’s argumentation and discourse less credible (and not more credible).

 

                                    h.         As a “credibility” check I would suggest taking some guidance from both ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue–endeavors which have developed a certain methodology which strives to ground real credibility in oneself and the other.

 

                                    i.         In this line, consider the following passage taken from Complementary Norms to the Jesuit Constitutions in the section dealing with Ecumenical Activity: (CN#268):

 

                                                (1)       “It [ecumenism] seeks, namely, what unites rather than what divides; it seeks understanding rather than confrontation, it seeks to know, understand, and love others as they wish to be known and understood, with full respect for their distinctiveness, through the dialogue of truth, justice, and love.”(The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Complementary Norms. St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996, emphasis added).

 

                                    j.         This is what I mean about a “credibility check”–to make sure that our articulation of the “other’s” position reflects a knowledge and understanding which they would own: “Yes, you have stated my position fairly, completely, and respectfully.”

 

                        5.         Convincing

 

                                    a.         Modes of argumentation that move from being merely credible to one that convinces, in the light of counter-arguments

 

                                    b.         Does the argument convince me/others?

 

                                                (1)       Why?

 

                                                (2)       or why not?

 

                                    c.         If an argument or line of reasoning does not convince, then what is our further response?

 

                                                (1)       Recast the argument?

 

                                                (2)       Repeat it, more loudly?

 

                                                (3)       Try to invoke sanctions of authority?

 

                                    d.         Recognize that “convincing” is not a matter of majority acceptance, polls, and/or political correctness.

 

                                    e.         An otherwise convincing argument may fail to convince because of the sin, hard-heartedness, lack of intelligence, etc., on the part of those addressed, and therefore would not be easily corrected by those engaged in the formulation of moral discourse.

 

                                    f.         In this sense we can say that Jesus Christ failed to “convince” a good deal of his audience as well!

 

                        6.         Christian

 

                                    a.         Does the moral discourse, position, theory, response, application, etc. take into account the Christian nature of our moral life?

 

                                    b.         Does it take into account adequately the aspects of Christian theology, such as

 

                                                (1)       Creation

 

                                                (2)       Sin and forgiveness

 

                                                (3)       Grace

 

                                                (4)       Cross

 

                                                (5)       Redemption

 

                                                (6)       Resurrection

 

                                                (7)       Eschatology

 

                                                (8)       Christian moral community of discipleship

 

                                    c.         This sixth "C" does not replace or supersede the previous 5 "C"'s, but is meant to be integrative as the organizing symbol.


 

IV.      ELABORATION OF THE FOUR SECTOR GRID FOR ACCESSING THE SOURCES OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS

 

            A.        Scripture

 

                        1.         Important to recognize Scripture first of all as the pre-eminent "sacred text" for Christians, and therefore for Christian ethics.

 

                                    a.         I.e., it is a text, and therefore must be

 

                                                (1)       translated,

 

                                                            (a)       Remember basic principle of translation that it is virtually impossible to translate completely and unambiguously the whole range of meaning from one language into another

 

                                                            (b)       Example of Matthew 5:48 and the normal translation of τελειoι and τελειos as "perfect"

 

                                                (2)       read,

 

                                                (3)       and interpreted

 

                                                            (a)       No such thing as a "self-interpreting text"

 

                                                            (b)       Thus, the science of hermeneutics is fundamental to our doing Christian ethics

 

                                    b.         and it is a text of a community

 

                                                (1)       it arose out of that community

 

                                                (2)       is sacred to that community

 

                                                (3)       and therefore is formative of the community's self-understanding

 

                                                            (a)       i.e., normative for the community's "story"

 

                                                            (b)       and the story in turn is normative for the community and the individuals in the community

 

                                                            (c)       this whole dimension is captured well in the theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas

 

                        2.         Further claims as to what this "sacred text" means, among others:

 

                                    a.         See handout on the various approaches to the “authority” of Scripture in theology

 

                                    b.         canonicity

 

                                                (1)       Principles of inclusion and exclusion of canonical material

 

                                                (2)       Tension and dynamic of creating a canon-within-the-canon

 

                                    c.         normativity

 

                                                (1)       Norma normans non normata

 

                                                (2)       I.e., as over and above every other norma normata

 

                                    d.         Religious culture (relation to Tradition)

 

                        3.         Proper uses for Scripture as sacred text: note the range and modes of this usage

 

                                    a.         as Revelation

 

                                    b.         Liturgical

 

                                    c.         Prayer and spirituality

 

                                    d.         Guiding praxis

 

                                    e.         Moral insights (norms?), etc.

 

                                    f.         Cultural "classic" in the hermeneutical sense

 

                        4.         Important to develop a lectio continua of Scripture

 

                                    a.         Keep ourselves in contact with the whole of Scripture, since it speaks in a variety of voices

 

                                    b.         I.e., there is no one "Biblical" theology or view on most areas.

 

                                    c.         Correct the natural tendency to develop a canon-within-the-canon

 

                                    d.         Cooperate with the work of the Spirit which is

 

                                                (1)       to remind us of what has been taught by Jesus

 

                                                (2)       and to teach us those things we could not bear earlier

 

                                                            (a)       John 14:16-17

 

                                                            (b)       John 14:26

 

                                                            (c)       John 16: 7-15

 

                                                (3)       Tie-in with the notion of “progressive revelation” of Scripture as expressed in Dei verbum #8

 

                                    e.         Therefore, meditation on Scripture is key for the moral life of both the individual and the community.

 

                                    f.         Plus the importance of moral dialogue, to see where the wind (the Spirit) is blowing in other communities.

 

            B.        Tradition(s)

 

                        1.         Traditional understanding, with a capital "T" as another virtual font of Revelation,

 

                                    a.         transmitted through the Apostolic and Patristic authors

 

                                    b.         and the Magisterium

 

                                                (1)       however this is conceived in a particular faith community

 

                                                (2)       i.e., what functions as religious authority, and how this authority functions in a particular community

 

                                                (3)       Be wary here too of short-circuit responses, such as Roma locuta, causa finita (Rome has spoken, the case is closed)

 

                                                (4)       “Roma” here is meant symbolically: all roads tend to lead to “our Rome,” whether this place be bisected by the Tiber, the Mississippi, the Mason-Dixon Line, and Bay Bridge.

 

                        2.         Therefore it is paramount to remember that Tradition is first and foremost grounded in the historical faith community

 

                        3.         It is that faith community which not only is nourished by that Tradition,

 

                        4.         but which nourishes the Tradition in turn, augmenting it, refining it, pruning it, etc.

 

                        5.         Keep this in mind, lest the Tradition become the "dead faith of the living" (to borrow the well-known dictum from the church historian, Jaroslav Pelikan), rather than the ongoing, living faith of the communion of saints (whose members are both living and dead).

 

                        6.         Thus, Tradition, like Scripture, has to be continually re-translated, re-read, and re-interpreted, within the context of a faith community that is a

 

                                    a.         Believing,

 

                                    b.         Worshiping,

 

                                    c.         and Acting

 

                                    d.         Community of Disciples

 

                        7.         Sandra Schneiders summarizes and expresses this fuller notion of the concept of Tradition in the following way:

 

                        8.         "Tradition is the actualization in the present,

 

                                    a.         in and through language,

 

                                    b.         of the most valued and critically important aspects of the community's experience, or,

 

                                    c.         more precisely, of the community's experience itself

 

                                                (1)       as it has been selectively appropriated

 

                                                (2)       and deliberately transmitted.

 

                        9.         "Tradition is the primary form and norm of effective historical consciousness,

 

                                    a.         which is the medium of ongoing community experience.

 

                                    b.         It includes deliberately formulated belief, that is, dogma, but is by no means limited to dogma.

 

                                    c.         It includes

 

                                                (1)       liturgy,

 

                                                (2)       spirituality,

 

                                                (3)       the lives and teachings of exemplary believers,

 

                                                (4)       historical experiences,

 

                                                (5)       legislation,

 

                                                (6)       artistic creations,

 

                                                (7)       customs and much more.

 

                                    d.         "One of the tasks of each generation of believers is to appropriate the tradition,

 

                                                (1)       to enrich and purify it by living interaction with it,

 

                                                (2)       and to transmit it to the next generation." [Sandra Schneiders, The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991): 71].

 

                                    e.         Schneiders describes 3 meanings to tradition:

 

                                                (1)       "Tradition, as the foundational gift

 

                                                            (a)       out of which the Church's experience unfolds throughout history,

 

                                                            (b)       is the Holy Spirit

 

                                                            (c)       who is the presence of the risen Jesus

 

                                                            (d)       making the Church the Body of Christ.

 

                                                (2)       "Tradition, as content,

 

                                                            (a)       is the sum total of appropriated and transmitted Christian experience,

 

                                                            (b)       out of which Christians throughout history select the material for renewed syntheses of the faith.

 

                                                (3)       "Tradition refers also to the mode

 

                                                            (a)       by which that content is made available to successive generations of believers,

 

                                                            (b)       the way in which the traditioning of the faith is carried on throughout history." [Schneiders, p. 72.]

 

                        10.       Relationship between Scripture and Tradition:

 

                                    a.         Return to the principle of norma normans non normata and norma normata.

 

                                    b.         "In short, the relationship between tradition and scripture is that of a hermeneutical dialectic.

 

                                    c.         "Scripture is produced as part of and witness to tradition;

 

                                    d.         it // functions as the norm of that tradition;

 

                                    e.         but it can only function as norm if it is interpreted from within and in terms of tradition." [Schneiders, pp. 82-83.]

 

                                    f.         This is basically the same point I make on highlighting the notion of the “axis” which runs between Scripture and Tradition in the 4-Sector Quadrant.

 

            C.        Rational Reflection (Philosophies)

 

                        1.         Remember that it is important to bear in mind that there is no "one" philosophical approach or system which is valid for all times, places, cultures, etc.

 

                                    a.         Problematic of dealing with the tradition of a so-called philosophia perennisis or "perennial philosophy"

 

                                                (1)       Claim that a certain philosophical approach, such as an Aristotelian or Thomistic system,

 

                                                (2)       because of its abstract and "universal" rational basis and language would be virtually transcultural and transhistorical,

 

                                                (3)       and therefore valid for all peoples.

 

                                                (4)       This philosophical view is often tied to a classicist worldview, and a certain approach to the natural law.

 

                                    b.         Example of Aeterni patris, the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII which mandated the study of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (1879).

 

                        2.         Just in the same way there is no single philosophical system which can capture all of human reality in its complexity

 

                        3.         While philosophy is key to theology (as it has often be called theology's "handmaiden"), we must bear in mind that in Christian ethics and moral theology the role and input of philosophy has to be done theologically, and not just as a sort of "philosophical excursus"

 

                        4.         Nevertheless, we should not undervalue the importance of the ongoing encounter between philosophy & moral theology, as expressed by John P. Langan, S.J.

 

                        5.         "It is also an encounter between moral theology and a complex and increasingly autonomous culture,

 

                        6.         for which philosophy serves as one highly generalized expression of its deeper ambitions and conflicts.

 

                        7.         Law, history, the various social sciences, the professions, and assorted political and humanitarian movements all generate ethical questions and demands, many of which philosophy serves to articulate and concentrate.

 

                        8.         Furthermore, those parts of philosophy that do not focus on ethics, especially metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophical psychology, set the framework for the ways in which we conceive human action

 

                        9.         and the possible connections between action and ultimate meanings and realities." "Catholic Moral Rationalism and the Philosophical Bases of Moral Theology." Theological Studies 50 (1989): 28.

 

                        10.       Recognition of two basic philosophical approaches, deductive and inductive, which will have great importance for the understanding of moral norms and their concrete applications, as well as the “how” and “what” of Scripture is used:

 

                        11.       Deductive

 

                                    a.         More easily linked with a classicist, static view of the world

 

                                    b.         In the area of methodology, the classicist deductive approach emphasizes norms

 

                                                (1)       as given

 

                                                (2)       often expressed in propositional language,

 

                                                (3)       eternal,

 

                                                (4)       universal,

 

                                                (5)       immutable and unchanging, etc.

 

                        12.       Inductive

 

                                    a.         More in line with a world-view of historical consciousness

 

                                    b.         Emphasizes discovery of norms and values,

 

                                    c.         an approach which stresses the concrete and particular,

 

                                    d.         the individual and the personal,

 

                                    e.         the contingent, as culturally and/or historically conditioned,

 

                                    f.         and therefore, except in rather general abstract formulations, difficult to set out as detailed moral norms, binding for all times and in all cultures, situations, etc.

 

                        13.       Import of the choice of one or the other of these basic approaches for how one will come to ethics.

 

            D.        Human Experience: Collection of Data and Modes of Interpretation

 

                        1.         Collection of Data: i.e., whose experience and which experience will be used?

 

                                    a.         Which experiences are “privileged”;

 

                                    b.         which are neglected?

 

                                    c.         Examples from sexual ethics and “reports” of those “cured” of homosexuality

 

                        2.         Mode of interpretation: i.e., how will these experiences be heard?


 

                        3.         Explain here the interplay between the lectio continua and my “double-helix”model of hermeneutics.

 

                        4.         Moral importance of data: [Gustafson on Rahner]:

 

                        5.         "The moralist is no longer self-sufficient in knowing the subject matter that is analyzed from a moral point of view, but must rely on knowledge that comes from relevant scientific specialists [e.g. bioethics].

 

                        6.         Rahner is not naive about reliance on specialists, but emphasizes the requirement for the moralist to take their conclusions into account.

 

                        7.         A moral conclusion might well be altered by the inclusion or omission of relevant data." [Gustafson, Theocentric Ethics, V. 2, p. 67].

 

                        8.         [Quoting Rahner]:

 

"`It is at least possible that the very `detail' of which the theologian is ignorant, or of which he has only a vague notion, might be the decisive factor in his case; it might be the very detail which would alter the whole conclusion.'" [Gustafson, p. 69; Rahner TI 9:225]

 

                                    a.         [Cf. Theological Investigations 9: 205-24; 225-52]

 

            E.        Example of the medieval opinion about the sinfulness of sexual relations during a woman's menstrual period.


 

V.        MEDIATION FACTORS OF ONE'S WORLD THEOLOGICAL VIEW

 

            A.        Modes of Mediation of Data from Experience

 

                        1.         Personal

 

                        2.         Collective

 

                        3.         Communal

 

                        4.         Cultural

 

                                    a.         Key aspect of humanity

 

                                    b.         Often overlooked

 

                                    c.         or misunderstood by moralists.

 

            B.        Influence of Classical vs. Historical World-view on One's Theological Model and World-view

 

                        1.         Notion developed by Bernard Lonergan

 

                        2.         Sets out two extremes in reference to acceptance/non-acceptance of change,

 

                        3.         and then in between these two extremes describes two other major positions in the contemporary world:

 

                        4.         "One may be named classicist, conservative, traditional;

 

                        5.         the other may be named modern, liberal, perhaps historicist (though that word unfortunately is very ambiguous).

 

                        6.         The differences between the two are enormous, for they differ

 

                                    a.         in their apprehension of man,

 

                                    b.         in their account of the good,

 

                                    c.         and in the role they ascribe to the Church in the world.

 

                        7.         But these differences are not immediately theological. They are differences in horizon, in total mentality.

 

                        8.         For either side really to understand the other is a major achievement and,

 

                        9.         when such understanding is lacking, the interpretation of Scripture or of other theological sources is most likely to be at cross-purposes." 127.

 

            C.        Mediated also by one's understanding of the key elements of an adequate contemporary theological anthropology,

 

                        1.         Which is grounded in a realistic human anthropology, which in turn will be informed by the social sciences, especially psychology, sociology, and cultural anthropology.

 

                                    a.         Moral need for integration of these disciplines into Christian ethics

 

                                    b.         As Robin Gill notes, "If Western philosophy has tended to foster individualism--

 

                                                (1)       encouraging individuals to believe that each can work out afresh his or her own moral framework--

 

                                                (2)       sociology tends to pull in the opposite direction.

 

                                                (3)       "In the process moral communities become an essential ingredient in understanding moral agents.

 

                                                (4)       "Selfless care, although practised by individuals, is generated and nurtured by certain types of moral community." Robin Gill, Moral Communities, The Prideaux Lectures for 1992, (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1992): 55.

 

                        2.         Key aspects seen in this light

 

                                    a.         Individual

 

                                    b.         Communal

 

                                    c.         Cultural

 

                                    d.         Ecological

 

                                                (1)       A more recent "discovery"

 

                                                (2)       We are part of nature and therefore interdependent

 

                                                (3)       Need to redo our theological bias of domination,

 

                                                (4)       and consider instead one of stewardship.

 

                                    e.         We will address this whole area in greater depth when we consider Christian anthropology.

 

                        3.         Human reason, etc.

 

                        4.         Law, normativity, etc. and their function in human society

 

                        5.         The world

 

                                    a.         Basically good, positive, etc.

 

                                    b.         Evil, sinful, dangerous, impure, etc.


 

VI.      THE HERMENEUTIC DIMENSION OF MEDIATION OF EXPERIENCE AND WORLD-VIEW

 

            A.        suffice to recall that basically "hermeneutics" involves a "practical interpretation"

 

                        1.         i.e., an interpretation which is personal: this text has this meaning for me/us, etc.

 

                        2.         and which at the same time is practical, it leads me/us to apply this interpretation to our lives.

 

                        3.         Thus, once again, my hermeneutical model of the double-helix

 

            B.        Contribution here of James Gustafson

 

                        1.         American Protestant ethician

 

                        2.         Student of H. Richard Niebuhr at Yale

 

                                    a.         Important teacher of many contemporary moralists, including

 

                                                (1)       Lisa Sowle Cahill

 

                                                (2)       William Costelloe Spohn

 

            C.        Such an interpretation in turn, according to James Gustafson, is usually structured

 

                        1.         around some central "organizing concept, idea, principle, analogy, metaphor, or symbol

 

                        2.         around which the [4] base points are organized." [Gustafson, Theocentric Ethics, v. 2, p. 143]

 

            D.        According to Gustafson, "The [4] base points are

 

                        1.         "(a) the interpretation of God and God's relations to the world and particularly to human beings, and the interpretation of God's purposes;

 

                        2.         "(b) the interpretation of the meaning or significance of human experience--of historical life of the human community, of events and circumstances in which persons and collectivities act, and of nature and man's participation in it;

 

                        3.         "(c) the interpretation of persons and collectivities as moral agents, and of their acts; and

 

                        4.         "(d) the interpretation of how persons and collectivities ought to make moral choices and ought to judge their own acts, those of others, and states of affairs in the world. [Gustafson, Theocentric Ethics, v. 2, p. 143]

 

                        5.         E.g. sola scriptura, “biblical warrants,” natural law, teachings of the Magisterium, etc.

 

            E.        This basic process of judgment will also be conditioned by one's basic worldview (in Lonergan's sense), either classicist or historicist

 

                        1.         We mentioned this notion above, and will discuss this again in greater detail when we consider the "paradigm shift" in moral theology, but for now it is sufficient to recall that these different world-views basically concern

 

                                    a.         The notion of relative change and stability in the world,

 

                                    b.         and especially how this relates to the knowledge of human nature,

 

                                    c.         and the ability to predicate a universal natural law applicable to

 

                                                (1)       all men and women

 

                                                (2)       in every conceivable situation, irrespective of culture and/or circumstance

 

                                                (3)       and transhistorical, therefore valid for all times.

 

                        2.         The classicist or historicist world-view will manifest marked differences in apprehension over

 

                                    a.         the meaning of human person/community

 

                                    b.         understanding of the "good"

 

                                    c.         Role of the Christian community of the Church in the world

 

                        3.         These differences will seriously condition the use and interpretation of the theological sources,

 

                                    a.         such as Scripture

 

                                    b.         Tradition,

 

                                    c.         Magisterial teachings, etc.

 

            F.        James Gustafson also highlights different basic types of judgment on the sources of theological ethics, and identifies four:

 

                        1.         "(a) which sources are relevant, and why;

 

                        2.         "(b) which sources are decisive when they conflict [or seem to conflict], and why;

 

                        3.         "(c) what specific `content' is to be used from these // sources, and what is to be ignored or rejected, and why; and

 

                        4.         "(d) how this content is to be interpreted, and why." [Gustafson, Theocentric Ethics, v. 2, pp. 143-144].

 

            G.        Potential weakness of an overly strong "organizing" concept

 

                        1.         May be too restrictive or narrow

 

                        2.         May not adequately reflect the range of diversity of human moral experience

 

                        3.         Not allow each and every voice in the various languages to be raised and heard

 

                        4.         May skew some of the information

 

                        5.         Thus, the difference between an "organizing" concept and a "domineering" or "dominating" concept.


 

VII.     FROM METHODOLOGY TO FOUNDATIONAL ISSUES ON SCRIPTURE & ETHICS

 

            A.        Recall Key Points from the Proposed 4-Sector Moral Methodology

 

                        1.         Recall that the 4-Sectors are held together theologically,

 

                                    a.         and that "moral theology" or "Christian ethics" have to inter-relate and integrate with the whole of theology

 

                                    b.         as well as the individual branches of theology.

 

                        2.         Use this 4-Sector methodology as a fluid and evaluative methodology

 

                        3.         Let each sector have its input, in its own "language"

 

                        4.         Be careful not to exaggerate the role of one sector, nor to neglect the input of a given sector

 

                        5.         Be alert to the questions and issues involved in the content selection from the various sectors, as well as to how content conflicts are resolved.

 

                        6.         Recall how the idea of the organizing concept works, and be aware of its potential limitations and defects

 

                        7.         Be aware of the dynamics and tensions involved in the interplay between models and paradigms

 

            B.        From a Methodological Point of View Practice the Lectio Continua

 

                        1.         Put yourself in contact with the whole of Scripture

 

                        2.         Minimize the problematic of creating the canon-within-the canon

 

                        3.         Respond to the double promise of the Spirit

 

                                    a.         To remind us of what has been taught

 

                                    b.         To teach us what we earlier could not bear

 

                        4.         Root ourselves more completely within the faith communities which hold the Bible to have a particular "sacred claim"

 

            C.        Repeat the Two Foundational Questions which will run throughout the course:

 

                        1.         What is meant by "Scripture"?

 

                        2.         What is meant by "Ethics"?

 

                        3.         Note how the answers and the modes of discourse utilized in formulating the answers to these two questions

 

                                    a.         interact and condition one another,

 

                                    b.         conflict with one another

 

                                    c.         predispose or predict certain positions, answers to moral or biblical questions, etc.

 

            D.        Address these Two Questions on the Meaning of Scripture and Ethics from a variety of perspectives, including

 

                        1.         Ecumenical (within the Christian tradition, but inter-denominational)

 

                        2.         Intra-denominational (i.e., within the same Confession)

 

                        3.         Inter-Religious (i.e., with others of different faith traditions, but who have different "sacred texts"

 

                        4.         With those who profess no faith

 

                                    a.         Agnostic,

 

                                    b.         Atheist

 

                                    c.         "Undecided"

 

            E.        With all these constituencies we need to walk a path of discernment

 

                        1.         Avoiding capitulation to one or another's agenda

 

                        2.         Yet, avoiding on our part a narrow dogmatism that cuts off communication and debate

 

                        3.         Example of the Fundamentalism Bumper-sticker

 

                                    a.         "Fundamentalism Stops a Thinking Mind"

 

                                    b.         Beneath this bumper-sticker was affixed the "Footed Fish" with Darwin in the center

 

                                    c.         Need to decode this debate a bit

 

                                                (1)       The counter-sign to the footed fish is the ancient Christian fish symbol

 

                                                (2)       Remember that originally this was an intra-religious secret sign

 

                                                (3)       Acronym, in Greek, of fish (ικθυς)

 

                                                            (a)       Ιησους (Jesus)

 

                                                            (b)       Xριστος (Christ)

 

                                                            (c)       Θεου (God's)

 

                                                            (d)       Υιος(Son)

 

                                                            (e)       Σοτερ (Savior)

 

                                    d.         Question of what will occupy the center of the fish,

 

                                    e.         Not whether it has fins or feet!

 

                        4.         Thus, need to assert the claim that Scripture and the Faith Community who holds the Sacred Claim of Scripture are legitimate dialogue partners in the ethical discussion

 

                        5.         Involves attendant issues of the place of faith and religion in ethics.


 

VIII.    SCRIPTURE AND ETHICS: INTER AND INTRA-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE

 

            A.        Return now to the principal discussion group at hand, namely the believers in the Christian faith community

 

            B.        Parenthetical remark on Scripture, moral theology, Christian ethics and ecumenism

 

                        1.         Scripture is our common book, which has what I call a "Sacred Claim" on Christians of all stripes.

 

                        2.         Often, moral matters can be a common ground for both dialogue and collaboration.

 

                        3.         Therefore, the use of Scripture in moral theology is also a point common to all Christians, and

 

                        4.         ecumenical dialogue has been a theme stressed in Vatican II,

 

                        5.         in the work of the World Council of Churches, plus most Christian denominations,

 

                        6.         as well as in the papacies of both Paul VI and John Paul II.

 

                        7.         Therefore, the demands of ecumenical collaboration would seem to give added stress to the elaboration of our efforts on the use of Scripture in Christian ethics.

 

            C.        What is Scripture? An Initial Response

 

                        1.         Theological, Epistemological, and Ethical dimensions of this question.

 

                        2.         Notion of Revelation:

 

                                    a.         cf. Avery Dulles' Models of Revelation

 

                                    b.         This is not the place to engage in a theology of revelation, but will highlight only a couple of key points.

 

                                    c.         Revelation of God expressed paradigmatically in Jesus Christ, God-who-became-human.

 

                                    d.         Thus, our Christology is essential for our moral theology.

 

                        3.         Further theological questions related to Revelation:

 

                                    a.         How has God revealed God's self?

 

                                                (1)       Various modes

 

                                                (2)       E.g., in other religions, in the physical world, etc.

 

                                    b.         How does God continue to reveal God's self today?

 

                                    c.         What is the normative claim of Revelation?

 

                                    d.         What are the proper or legitimate modes of response to this normativity?

 

                        4.         Notion of Scripture:

 

                                    a.         the word does NOT mean exactly the same thing as Revelation.

 

                                    b.         Scripture is a written genre (and many religions have "scriptures" [and interpret them in various ways: e.g. Koran, Book of Mormon, Buddhist sutras, etc.]).

 

                                    c.         Scripture has a "sacred claim" on its believers.

 

                                    d.         The Catholic Church and most Protestant Churches recognize that the Scriptures must be interpreted.

 

                                    e.         Problematic of a narrow biblistic fundamentalism will be taken up later in the course.

 

            D.        "What Is Ethics from the Perspective of Moral Theology?"

 

                        1.         Recall the handout on various definitions, pre and post-conciliar, of moral theology.

 

                        2.         I've already proposed a model for moral theology, and will try to make this model coherent

 

                        3.         Evaluate continually our models.

 

                        4.         However, points to underline here:

 

                        5.         Via negativa: what moral theology is NOT:

 

                                    a.         Body of abstract principles

 

                                    b.         A penal code

 

                        6.         Two poles of moral theology, our Christian anthropology, BOTH grounded in relation to God:

 

                                    a.         The individual,

 

                                                (1)       Unique

 

                                                (2)       Graced (i.e., how God calls and relates to this unique person

 

                                                (3)       Communal (even as a hermit) the individual is a member of

 

                                    b.         The community

 

                                                (1)       Which is NOT just an aggregate of individuals

 

                                                (2)       But a moral community

 

                                    c.         Difficulty with Kantian moral philosophy, and with certain interpretations of St. Thomas is the eclipse of the role of the moral community.

 

                                    d.         Difficulty of a certain type of meta-ethics to deal with the "particular," the unique,

 

                                                (1)       because it is difficult to conceive of this Christian anthropological aspect in terms of "universalizability"

 

                                                (2)       And therefore, Scripture, which does deal well with this area, is seen as leading us to some sort of ethical fideism.


 

IX.      VARIOUS MODELS FOR THE USE OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

            A.        Introductory Remarks on Models and Paradigms in theology as related to methodology

 

                        1.         Need to approach method with both eyes open!

 

                        2.         As Schneiders notes about Gadamer:

 

                                    a.         "The point of H.-G. Gadamer's masterwork, Truth and Method, is that when method controls thought and investigation

 

                                    b.         the latter may lead to accurate data but it does not lead to truth.

 

                                    c.         Method, understood as

 

                                                (1)       a preestablished set of procedures

 

                                                (2)       for investigating some phenomenon,

 

                                                (3)       in fact not only attains its object

 

                                                (4)       but creates its object.

 

                                    d.         In other words, it determines a priori

 

                                                (1)       what kind of data can be obtained

 

                                                (2)       and will be considered relevant." [Schneiders, The Revelatory Text, p. 23.]

 

            B.        Use of "models" approach

 

                        1.         Presume that all are familiar with the use of the term in theology.

 

                        2.         If not, read the first chapter of Avery Dulles' Models of the Church. Garden City: Doubleday, 1974; Image Books, 1978. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1976.

 

                                    a.         See especially the Introduction, Chapters 1 and 12 (first and last chapters)

 

            C.        Notion of model: an approach towards understanding a complex reality, such as the mystery of the Church.

 

                        1.         Dulles' definition: "When an image is employed reflectively and critically to deepen one's theoretical understanding of a reality it becomes what today is called a `model'." [Models of the Church, p. 27].

 

                        2.         Two types of models:

 

                                    a.         Explanatory: synthesize what we already know

 

                                    b.         Exploratory: heuristic, lead to knew insights, get beyond limitations of a particular outlook.

 

            D.        Basic distinction between models and a paradigm

 

                        1.         Models: allows for a plurality

 

                        2.         Paradigm: only one at a time

 

                        3.         Models can complement one another, but

 

                        4.         Paradigms must shift: revolution

 

            E.        Paradigm: a dominant model

 

                        1.         Dulles' definition: "A model rises to the status of a paradigm when it has proved successful in solving a great variety of problems and is expected to be an appropriate tools for unraveling anomalies as yet unsolved." [Models of the Church, p. 33].

 

                        2.         Thomas Kuhn's definition of a paradigm as "an entire constellation of

 

                                    a.         beliefs,

 

                                    b.         values,

 

                                    c.         techniques

 

                                    d.         shared by members of a given community."

 

                                    e.         Kuhn's work is widely influential not just in science and theology, but also in business and even new computer software on models.

 

                        3.         Another important theological term, e.g. Jesus is the paradigmatic human.

 

                        4.         For further reference on paradigm see:

 

                                    a.         in terms of science: Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

 

                                    b.         in terms of theology: Hans Küng and David Tracy, eds., Paradigm Change in Theology: A Symposium for the Future. New York: Crossroad, 1989.

 

                        5.         Brian Johnstone's article, "From Physicalism to Personalism." Studia Moralia 30 (1992): 71-96.

 

                                    a.         Analyzes the "paradigm-shift" in Roman Catholic moral theology from a physicalist understanding of human nature and moral reasoning

 

                                    b.         to a personalist version and then discusses the origins of physicalism, its problematic features, and solutions proposed by personalism.

 

                        6.         I will consider the difficulties involved in the "paradigm shift" when we look at the work of Bruno Schüller.

 

            F.        Plurality of models approach: balance, like the facets on a diamond.

 

            G.        Alternative approach to models and paradigms:

 

                        1.         classical definition, categories and dichotomies:

 

                        2.          "The classical way to define a thing is to put it into a category of familiar objects and then to list the distinguishing characteristics that differentiate it from other members of the same category." [Dulles, Models of the Church, p. 19].

 

                        3.         Some Problems with the classical, definition approach

 

                                    a.         A certain skewing of information, forcing it into one or another category, even if it did not fit.

 

                                    b.         Tendency to labels, especially opposing views, with clear (if not correct) tags in terms of absolutes (especially what we did to Protestants, and vice versa).

 

                                    c.         Tendency to excommunicate that which could not be forced into one or another aspect of the definition.

 

                                    d.         E.g. on the culinary level with the non-Kosher foods.

 

            H.        Brief overview of all six of Spohn's models

 

                        1.         Perhaps "typology" would be a more appropriate term here (less "complete" than model)

 

                        2.         I will also be suggesting a couple of additional "models" or "typologies"

 

                        3.         Make sure you are continuing to read this book, because all I will do will be to

 

                                    a.         present an overview,

 

                                    b.         while drawing attention to some areas of greater relevance for our course,

 

                                    c.         but I want you to be aware of the whole book by the end of the course.

 

                        4.         Spohn's own overview is treated in his What Are They Saying About Scripture and Ethics?, pp. 12-17.

 

                        5.         Note, though Spohn's implicit premises on what constitutes Scripture and what questions frame "ethics" and ethical discourse

 

                        6.         Scripture as Command of God

 

                                    a.         Neo-orthodox Protestantism:

 

                                    b.         Bonhoeffer, Barth and Bultmann

 

                                    c.         "...<What ought I to do?> Its distinctive approach states: <Listen to the personal command of God directed to you and respond in obedient faith.>" p. 12.

 

                                    d.         Note here the deontological framing of the ethical question: "What ought I to do"

 

                                    e.         A different, e.g. a more teleological or relationally-grounded question would frame the issue in different ways, and lead presumably to different nuances, if not different answers altogether.

 

                        7.         Scripture as Moral Reminder

 

                                    a.         Biblical Natural Law:

 

                                    b.         Fuchs, Rahner, Schüller

 

                                    c.         "What ought I to do? I must be human because the Lord has embraced that humanity in the incarnation." p. 13.

 

                        8.         Scripture as Call to Liberation

 

                                    a.         Liberation theology and feminism:

 

                                    b.         Gutiérrez; Letty Russell and Phyllis Trible

 

                                    c.         "Christians must join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation because only there can God be found." p. 14.

 

                                    d.         Perhaps Feminist Theology and Liberation Theology should be separated, for a better treatment of both.

 

                        9.         Scripture as Response to Revelation

 

                                    a.         H. Richard Niebuhr

 

                                    b.         Bruce Birch and Larry Rasmussen

 

                                    c.         "The Christian should ask <What is God doing in my life?> before asking the question <What ought I to do?> The basic imperative, therefore, is <Respond to the one God who is acting in everything that is happening to you.>" p. 14.

 

                        10.       Scripture as Call to Discipleship

 

                                    a.         Really a strong Niebuhrian typology

 

                                    b.         Stanley Hauerwas

 

                                    c.         Sallie McFague

 

                                    d.         John Howard Yoder

 

                                    e.         "To be disciples, Christians ought to embody their Master's distinctive way of life." p. 15. [story and parable]

 

                        11.       Scripture as Basis for Responding Love

 

                                    a.         Spohn's own proposal, but which has been substantially revised in the forthcoming edition of his book.

 

                                    b.         Strongly indebted to the theology of Jonathan Edwards, and the latter's notion of "religious affections"

 

                                    c.         Jn 15:12, "Love one another as I have loved you."

 

                                    d.         The "Go and do likewise" of Spohn's talk to us.

 

                                    e.         "This is an ethics of imitation, but not of the externals of Jesus' ministry. Rather, the locus of transformation is the heart of the Christian." p. 16.

 

                                    f.         I.e., it's not about feet! but rather,

 

                                    g.         (Joseph Sittler) the shape of the engendering deed

 

            I.         Some Additional Models

 

                        1.         Evangelical Model

 

                        2.         Inculturation Model

 

                                    a.         E.g., C.S. Song

 

                                    b.         Kowk Pui-lan, etc.

 

                        3.         Use these and other models in the illustrative sense, not in the "exhaustive" sense.


 

X.        INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

            A.        Review of basic principles of Exegesis:

 

                        1.         Formgeschichte

 

                        2.         Redaktionsgeschicte

 

                        3.         Sitz im Leben

 

                                    a.         Sitz im Leben Evangelii

 

                                    b.         Sitz im Leben Kirche

 

                        4.         Get handbook as a vademecum if need be.

 

            B.        Pluralism in both Scripture and Theology

 

                        1.         E.g. 4 Gospels instead of one; various "theologies" evident in even one book of Scripture, such as the Book of Genesis (Priestly, Yahwist, etc.)

 

                        2.         Different theological methods, approaches, stresses, etc.

 

                        3.         Therefore, logical and acceptable to have different "models" in use of Scripture in moral theology.

 

                        4.         Cf. Paul D. Hanson's The Diversity of Scripture: A Theological Interpretation. Overtures to Biblical Theology, 11. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982.

 

                                    a.         Hanson's thesis is that diversity in the Bible should be seen positively as a witness to the richness of divine revelation,

 

                                    b.         as well as an essential safeguard to the mystery and majesty of God.

 

                                    c.         Hanson analyzes two tensions within the Bible:

 

                                                (1)       that between kings and prophets, which leads to a form/reform polarity, and

 

                                                (2)       that between apocalyptic seers and priests, which leads to a visionary/pragmatic polarity.

 

                                    d.         According to Hanson, these polarities provide a firm biblical basis for a dynamic theology which goes beyond the primitive biblical communities to address the contemporary community of faith as well.

 

                                    e.         Hanson is (was?) Busey Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School.

 

            C.        Two "Non-Methods"

 

                        1.         Narrow biblicism of a certain type of so-called "Fundamentalism" (literalism)

 

                                    a.         Fundamentalists claim they are not "interpreting" Scripture, but this claim is false--no such thing as "non-interpreted" Scripture.

 

                                    b.         We will have more to say about Fundamentalism as a "non-method" when we take the section on "Problematic Approaches to the Use of Scripture in Moral Theology."

 

                        2.         Secularism: Scripture is irrelevant to the modern age and therefore has no authority.

 

                                    a.         I.e. cannot overcome the hermeneutical problem

 

                                    b.         Or denies that the Bible is a classical text, with excess of meaning which allows for a fusion of horizon, etc.


 

XI.      SCRIPTURE AS A KEY SOURCE FOR MORAL THEOLOGY (Roman Catholic Excursus)

 

            A.        It should seem obvious that Scripture would have a privileged place in Christian moral theology (though this historically has not always been the case);

 

            B.        Note on the historical background of traditional manualistic moral theology: Pre-Stage 1 (or perhaps we might call it the Backstage!)

 

            C.        Historical Note on a problem in traditional Catholic use of Scripture:

 

                        1.         Reformation Battle:

 

                                    a.         Protestant reluctance to integrate the role of moral theology (or ethical philosophy) in salvation (faith alone);

 

                                    b.         Roman Catholic over-dependence on natural law which left Scripture as "either an afterthought or merely an ornament to a philosophical treatise." [proof-texting], [Spohn, p. 8]

 

                                    c.         Influence too of the manualistic approach (regressive)

 

                        2.         Divergence of Methods between Protestant and Roman Catholic moral theologians:

 

                                    a.         "While Protestant moral reflection has stressed the realities of Christian conversion to the possible detriment of normative material,

 

                                    b.         Roman Catholic moral theology has shown great confidence in applying moral rules to situations but neglected the transformation of heart that is central to New Testament moral teaching." [Spohn, p. 11.]


 

XII.     STAGE 1: SCRIPTURE IN THE RENEWAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY

 

            A.        Background of manualistic methodology

 

            B.        Do not forget the audience and purpose of the moral manuals:

 

                        1.         Lest we judge the moral manuals too harshly, it would be good to keep in mind both the texts' purpose and their "audience."

 

                        2.         The proximate "audience" was composed virtually entirely of seminarians, and

 

                        3.         the remote "audience" would be confessional penitents, counselees, etc.

 

                        4.         Nowadays our audience has been broadened as we find a wider spectrum of people doing theology, women, lay people, etc., and

 

                        5.         the concerns of moral theology have been extended as well.

 

                        6.         The greater concern, for example, for the moral formation of Christian character is one such instance in which Scripture might be employed more easily than some other area of traditional moral theology, such as the use of the principle of the double effect in complicated bioethical issues.

 

            C.        Jared Wicks notes that the methodology of the manuals was essentially "regressive,"

 

                        1.         in the sense that its argumentation began from the magisterial teaching then in place,

 

                        2.         and worked backward to illustrate how that particular doctrine was originally expressed in Scripture

 

                        3.         and then how it was subsequently developed in the patristic and medieval expressions of Catholic faith.

 

                        4.         In the manualist methodology, according to Wicks, the theological "sources are read in the light of what is taught and believed in the theologian's own day.

 

                        5.         The intended result is an account of the harmonious development by stages down to what is explicit in present-day teaching.

 

            D.        Movement from the Moral Manuals to the Biblical Renewal of Moral Theology

 

                        1.         Movement in the 1940's and 1950's

 

                                    a.         Bernard Häring's watershed work: Das Gesetz Christi. Moraltheologie für Priester und Laien. Freiburg: Erich Wewel Verlag, 1954.

 

In English: The Law of Christ: Volume 1, General Moral Theology. Westminster: Newman Press, 1963.

 

                                                (1)       See especially pp. 3-33 for Häring's overview of the development of moral theology prior to Vatican II.

 

                                                (2)       However, as a manual of moral theology this work has been superseded by Häring's Free and Faithful in Christ.

 

                                    b.         Gérard Gillemann, S.J. Le primat de la charité en théologie morale. Brussels: Editions Desclée, 1954.

 

                                                (1)       In English: The Primacy of Charity in Moral Theology. Translated by William F. Ryan, S.J. and André Vachon, S.J. from the second French edition. Westminster (MD): The Newman Press, 1959.

 

                                                (2)       Gillemann taught in India.

 

                        2.         Attempt to find some central biblical theme, such as Law, Charity, etc., as the organizing concept for the moral manual.

 

            E.        Vatican II and the renewal of moral theology

 

                        1.         Here again, much of this material is summarized in my Second Stage article.

 

                        2.         Metaphor of Scripture as the "Soul" of theology.

 

                        3.         Locus classicus is found in Vatican II's Decree on the Training of Priests, Optatam totius, at #16:

 

                                    a.         "...Students should receive a most careful training in holy Scripture, which should be the soul, as it were, of all theology.

 

                                    b.         ...They [seminarians] should learn to seek the solution of human problems in the light of revelation, to apply its eternal truths to the changing conditions of human affairs, and to express them in language which people of the modern world will understand.

 

                                    c.         "In like manner the other theological subjects should be renewed through a more vivid contact with the Mystery of Christ and the history of salvation.

 

                                    d.         Special care should be given to the perfecting of moral theology.

 

                                                (1)       Its scientific presentation should draw more fully on the teaching of holy Scripture and

 

                                                (2)       should throw light upon the exalted vocation of the faithful in Christ and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world."

 

            F.        Import of the relation between Revelation and Scripture for moral theology and/or Christian ethics


 

XIII.    ANALYSIS OF DEI VERBUM

 

            A.        Dei verbum, Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.

 

            B.        Theological Background to Dei Verbum

 

                        1.         Reformation Polemic: Scripture vs. Tradition

 

                        2.         Theological Debate within the Roman Catholic Church on Scripture and Tradition as mutual fonts of Revelation

 

                                    a.         Interdependent

 

                                    b.         or Separate, but Equal

 

                                    c.         or Separate, but unequal

 

                        3.         Answer of that Debate within the document

 

            C.        Exegesis of Dei verbum's content on biblical interpretation, ongoing Revelation, and proper exegesis

 

                        1.         To begin to answer these questions let us return for a moment to the Catholic understanding of Scripture and Revelation as it is set forth in Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation, Dei verbum,

 

                        2.         Important to read the whole document, but especially #'s: 5,8,12,25, and 26.

 

                        3.         Be attentive to the twin themes of

 

                                    a.         "progression of understanding" and

 

                                    b.         "demand for interpretation."

 

            D.        Progressive in our understanding of Revelation, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, cf. #5:

 

Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and "makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth." The same Holy Spirit constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood.

 

            E.        Progression in the transmission of Revelation, cf. #8:

 

The Tradition that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth. Thus, as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing towards the plentitude of divine truth, until eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her.

 

            F.        Demand for interpretation, cf. #12:

 

Seeing that, in sacred Scripture, God speaks through men in human fashion, it follows that the interpreter of sacred Scriptures, if he is to ascertain what God has wished to communicate to us, should carefully search out the meaning which the sacred writers really had in mind, that meaning which God had thought well to manifest through the medium of their words.

 

            G.        Dynamic role of Scripture then in our lives: DV #26 (final paragraph of Dei verbum):

 

So may it come that by the reading and study of the sacred books "the Word of God may speed on and triumph" (2 Th 3:1) and the treasure of Revelation entrusted to the Church may more and more fill the hearts of men. Just as from constant attendance at the eucharistic mystery the life of the Church draws increase, so a new impulse of spiritual life may be expected from increased veneration of the Word of God, which "stands forever" (Is. 40:8; cf. 1 Pet. 1:23-25).

 

            H.        Bibliographical Footnote: For a good overview on Biblical Interpretation in the light of Vatican II see

 

                        1.         John R. Donahue, S.J. "Things Old and Things New in Biblical Interpretation." The Way Supplement. 72 (Autumn 1991): 20-31.

 

                        2.         In the light of Vatican II's Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), Donahue presents an overview of patristic and medieval biblical interpretation,

 

                        3.         the significance of the shift to the historical-critical method, as well as the significance of several `post-critical' approaches to interpretation.

 

                        4.         Donahue concludes that both historical-critical and the post-critical approaches are necessary for sound biblical interpretation.

 

                        5.         Consider also Sandra Schneiders' critique of over-reliance on the historico-critical method.


 

XIV.   HERMENEUTICAL THEORY FOR USE OF SCRIPTURE IN ETHICS

 

            A.        What is Hermeneutics?

 

                        1.         According to Hans-Georg Gadamer, in his monumental Truth and Method, (New York: Crossroad, 1985) [German original, 1960].

 

                        2.         "Hermeneutics is an art and not a mechanical process.

 

                        3.         Thus it brings its work, understanding, to completion like a work of art." p. 168.

 

                        4.         "But the discovery of the true meaning of a text or a work of art is never finished;

 

                        5.         it is in fact an infinite process.

 

                        6.         Not only are fresh sources of error constantly excluded, so that the true meaning has filtered out of it all kinds of things that obscure it,

 

                        7.         but there // emerge continually new sources of understanding, which reveal unsuspected elements of meaning." p. 265-266.

 

            B.        Some Basic Premises for Interpretation:

 

                        1.         No written text, scriptural or otherwise, is self-interpreting.

 

                        2.         Therefore, the fundamentalists' claim of a "literal" interpretation is denied from the outset.

 

                        3.         Thus, every text demands interpretation.

 

                        4.         Such interpretation is done by an individual, or group of individuals, but always

 

                        5.         within the context of both a tradition and

 

                        6.         a community.

 

                        7.         Important not to overlook any the elements of these basic premises.

 

                        8.         e.g. the thesis of Stephen Fowl and L. Gregory Jones in their Reading in Communion: Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1991.

 

                                    a.         The authors, an Anglican and a United Methodist, maintain that recent writing on the relevance of the Bible to contemporary ethical issues has placed too much emphasis on an agenda set by professional exegetes and ethicians.

 

                                    b.         They "contend that the development of such judgment requires the formation and transformation of the character appropriate to disciples of Jesus.

 

                                    c.         This requires the // acquisition of a very different set of skills, habits and dispositions from those required of the professional biblical scholar.

 

                                    d.         Further, Christians develop such character in and through the friendships and practices of Christian communities.

 

                                    e.         Hence the importance of `reading in communion'." pp. 1-2.

 

            C.        Gadamer's point on on-going interpretation and its relation to understanding.

 

                        1.         "Interpretation is not an occasional additional act subsequent to understanding,

 

                        2.         but rather understanding is always an interpretation, and

 

                        3.         hence interpretation is the explicit form of understanding." Truth and Method, p. 274.

 

            D.        Hermeneutical interpretation will always imply a method, even if this "method" is not explicitly acknowledged by the interpreters.

 

                        1.         As J. Severino Croatto notes in the preface to his Biblical Hermeneutics: Toward a Theory of Reading as the Production of Meaning, trans. Robert R. Barr, (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1987): x.

 

                        2.         [In biblical interpretation] "One or another method has always been practiced, of course, but often without explicit awareness of it. The reader will come to see that there is no such thing as a nonhermeneutic reading of the Bible." p. x.

 

            E.        Some important concepts from hermeneutical theory:

 

                        1.         Distinction between the "art object" and the "work of art"

 

                                    a.         E.g., here the "text" is the "art object"

 

                                    b.         which becomes a "work of art" only intermittently,

 

                                    c.         i.e., only through its interaction with an interpreter/reader.

 

                        2.         Notion of a "classic text"

 

                                    a.         Presupposition of the evocative power of any literary text:

 

                                                (1)       i.e., to create a "world"

 

                                                (2)       and invite the reader to enter into that "alternative" reality

 

                                                (3)       a classic which achieve more of a "total world" into which the reader is drawn.

 

                                                (4)       "This different world is the world before the text,

 

                                                            (a)       the world that the text generates and invites the reader to enter.

 

                                                            (b)       The New Testament as a whole, and each of its parts individually, projects such an alternative world."[Schneiders, p. 168.]

 

                                    b.         According to Gadamer, "... a classic is a classic because it is an outstanding exemplification and manifestation of truth about human existence.

 

                                    c.         Therefore, it has endured throughout the history as a classic, whereas period pieces have not.

 

                                    d.         The validity of a classic is manifested in its functional endurance, for generations have recognized in the classic the truth of their own identity." [Gadamer, p. 360.]

 

                                    e.         Spohn's distinction between a "classic" and a "period piece"

 

                                                (1)       (i.e., that which seems to work well enough in one era,

 

                                                (2)       but doesn't stand either the test of time or transfer of cultures.

 

                                                (3)       "Best-sellers" are often good examples of "period pieces"

 

                        3.         Layers of interpretation process with a classic

 

                                    a.         Translating it

 

                                    b.         Decoding it

 

                                                (1)       i.e., deciphering the language of the ancient text

 

                                                (2)       exegesis comes in here, especially form criticism

 

                                    c.         criticized (e.g., redaction criticism, reader-response criticism, etc.)

 

                                    d.         recontextualized in the present situation

 

                                    e.         in which its meaning is reappropriated by the contemporary readers

 

                                    f.         this is possible due to the "excess of meaning" of a classic text.

 

                        4.         "excess of meaning"

 

                                    a.         Sometimes referred to as "surplus of meaning"

 

                                    b.         Related to work of both Gadamer and Ricoeur

 

                                    c.         Ricoeur speaks of "semantic autonomy"

 

                                                (1)       "to designate this liberation of the text from control by its author's intention,

 

                                                (2)       [and] has shown that, far from being an obstacle to interpretation,

 

                                                (3)       the distancing of the text from the situation of composition actually endows it with a surplus of meaning

 

                                                (4)       that grounds its endless capacity to give rise to new valid interpretations." [Schneiders, p. 123.]

 

                        5.         Expansion of the text's audience

 

                                    a.         Original audience related to the author's intention for the text

 

                                    b.         Expanding the audience expands the context of "hearing"

 

                                    c.         and "In the case of significant texts the expansion of the audience,

 

                                                (1)       indeed its potential universality,

 

                                                (2)       will exploit reserves of meaning in the text

 

                                                (3)       of which the author could not possibly have been aware." [Schneiders, p. 143.]

 

                        6.         "fusion of horizons"

 

                                    a.         Sandra Schneiders, following Gadamer, describes process as an even when

 

                                                (1)       "The world of the text (its referent as significant)

 

                                                (2)       and the world of the reader intersect,

 

                                                            (a)       expanding or

 

                                                            (b)       contracting the horizons of the latter in the event of meaning.

 

                                                (3)       To // engage the meaning of the text at this level is to court conversion.

 

                                                            (a)       Once one has seen and heard, one is no longer the same.

 

                                                            (b)       Even to resist change is to be affected."

 

                                                (4)       From The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991): 16-17.

 

                                    b.         Croatto explains this Gadamerian term in this fashion:

 

                                    c.         "Gadamer emphasizes that a human being is within a tradition, and that the act of understanding is a finite occurrence of that tradition, as a way of belonging to history.

 

                                    d.         The historical distance between the text and the interpreter calls for a `fusion of horizons',

 

                                    e.         which is possible because we are dealing with the intrahistorical." Biblical Hermeneutics, p. 3.

 

                        7.         "effective history"

 

                                    a.         Premise of historical consciousness, the uniquely human way of being, of understanding in our world.

 

                                    b.         Encounter between our historical consciousness and the events of the past:

 

                                                (1)       "... our historical consciousness does not encounter a free-standing `objective' knowable,

 

                                                            (a)       for example, the past `as it was',

 

                                                            (b)       because the past is not a detached stationary object.

 

                                                (2)       Whatever of the past is known is known only in the present,

 

                                                            (a)       therefore as shaped by its passage through history

 

                                                            (b)       from its initiating occurrence to the present.

 

                                    c.         "By `effective history' is meant historical reality

 

                                                (1)       not // only as initiating event

 

                                                (2)       but also as modified and amplified by all that the initiating event has produced." [Schneiders, p. 160.]

 

                                    d.         Thus, in summary, Gadamer's notion of "effective history" which goes forward in time from the event itself,

 

                                    e.         but backward in time in terms of interpretation of that event's significance.

 

                                    f.         This backward movement of interpretation alters according to an ever-expanding horizon which also changes.

 

                                    g.         "The past is not ontologically or epistemologically stationary;

 

                                    h.         it is constantly being reconstituted within its own effective history." [Schneiders, p. 160.]

 

                                    i.         "In other words, we only really understand that which has been integrated into reality within the horizon of effective historical consciousness because that is the only consciousness we have." [Schneiders, p. 161.]

 

                                    j.         Schneiders used the example of a woman with a young child who was deserted by an abusive husband.

 

                                                (1)       Initially the woman's situation might seem even more tragic as she is left penniless with a young child to support.

 

                                                (2)       Later on she meets and marries a caring man.

 

                                                (3)       In this instance the original event's "effective history" changes, and

 

                                                (4)       instead of being seen as tragic is now seen as liberative and even graced.

 

                                                (5)       As discussed by Sandra Schneiders in her "Living Word or Deadly Letter? The Encounter Between the New Testament and Contemporary Experience." Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 47 (1992): 45-60.

 

            F.        Relationship between text, interpreter and interpretation.

 

                        1.         Starting premise: distinction between a "correct" and a "valid" interpretation.

 

                                    a.         "Correct" implies one "objectively true" interpretation,

 

                                    b.         but as Sandra Schneiders astutely observes, "there is no single meaning that alone corresponds to and constitutes the meaning of the text.

 

                                    c.         "Multiple interpretations are not only possible but demanded by the very nature of the text as text.

 

                                    d.         "The question then concerns validity." [Schneiders, p. 164.]

 

                                    e.         The validity question is important, but for now we will not address it specifically.

 

                        2.         Ultimate aim of valid interpretation is transformative understanding

 

                                    a.         This involves a "fusion of horizons" through "effective history"

 

                                    b.         which "involves a radical personal engagement with what Gadamer calls the truth claims of the text.

 

                                                (1)       "Truth claims are not merely dogmatic propositions, assertions of fact, or deliverances of information

 

                                                (2)       but the presentation of reality that offers itself to us as a way of being, as a possible increase or decrease of personal subjective realty." [Schneiders, p. 174.]

 

                        3.         Contribution of Claude Geffré, O.P.

 

                        4.         [contemporary hermeneutics underscore] "the plurality and the divergence of meanings,

 

                        5.         the historical succession of interpretations and the difficulty which exists in surmounting the conflict among interpretations.

 

                        6.         Everyone reads a text with his own prior understanding, from his own cultural background."

 

                        7.         From Geffré's A New Age in Theology, trans. Robert Shillenn with Francis McDonagh and Theodore L. Westow, (New York, Paramus and Toronto: Paulist Press, 1974): 44. [Originally published as Un Nouvel Age de la Théologie. Paris: Les Editions de Cerf, 1972.]

 

                        8.         Thus, the importance of cross-cultural input, readings, dialogue, correction, etc. of the biblical texts, in order to gain a wider range of valid interpretations, and correction of invalid ones.

 

                        9.         Thus, important to read authors like Kwok Pui-lan, etc.

 

            G.        Saying essentially the same thing in a slightly different way,

 

                        1.         God's revelation contained in the Scriptures only becomes fulfilled in a significant way by

 

                        2.         being received and accepted in the faith of the believing individual and community.

 

            H.        Reading the Scriptures in the individual and community's own context is what opens up the possibility of a new existence.

 

            I.         According to Geffré, one actually realizes a "new understanding of oneself before the text.

 

                        1.         That understanding of oneself before the text is, however, not a question of handing oneself over to a purely intellectual understanding of the text.

 

                        2.         It is rather realizing a new possibility of existence and making a new world exist.

 

                        3.         Hermeneutical understanding therefore results in social and political praxis."

 

                        4.         From Geffré's The Risk of Interpretation: On Being Faithful to the Christian Tradition in a Non-Christian Age, trans. David Smith, (New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1987): 44?.

 

                        5.         Originals in French, and most chapters appeared first as essays elsewhere.

 

                        6.         Several appeared in Concilium, and since this is translated into virtually every major Indo-European language, I would recommend that people use it to get translations in a language with which they are more comfortable.

 

            J.         Tension between historico-critical method and hermeneutical interpretation

 

                        1.         Problem of treating biblical texts (or any other text) as fixed semantic containers,

 

                                    a.         each of which contains a specific meaning,

 

                                    b.         which must be "deciphered" by historico-critical exegesis

 

                                    c.         in order to discover the original author's "intention."

 

                        2.         This is an inadequate theory according to Schneiders, and what is needed is a "post-critical theory of textual interpretation."

 

                        3.         Schneiders here largely follows Paul Ricoeur.

 

                        4.         For some additional background on this issue, from a different angle, see Jared Wicks, S.J. "Biblical Criticism Criticized." Gregorianum 72 (1991): 117-128.

 

                                    a.         An extended analytic review of the ecumenical conference sponsored by the Rockford Institute Center on Religion and Society held in New York on 27 January 1988

 

                                    b.         at which the Erasmus Lecture was delivered by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

 

                                    c.         "Cardinal Ratzinger decries two corrosive effects of modern exegesis.

 

                                                (1)       First it has destroyed the inner homogeneity and unity of the Bible, long assumed to rest on the continuity between the varied outlooks of our New Testament authors.

 

                                                (2)       Second, critical study wrongly reduces the notion of `understanding the text' to gaining a knowledge of the genesis of the formulation through stages of prior oral transmission and redactional editing." p. 118.

 

                                    d.         Ratzinger claims that the interpretive guidelines in DV 12 oppose the "reigning assumptions of present-day biblical studies,

 

                                                (1)       (1) where one simply presupposes a total hiatus between meanings attained as exegetical results and those proposed as the doctrine of the faith, and

 

                                                (2)       (2) where many pursue a free-wheeling quest of religious relevance by selecting from the smorgasbord of scholarly offerings only what serves an agenda,

 

                                                            (a)       e.g. of feminism or psychotherapy,

 

                                                            (b)       already formed without benefit of biblical input." p. 118.

 

            K.        Models of the Hermeneutical Process: 4 geometrical models

 

                        1.         Hermeneutical Circle

 

                                    a.         Traditional term: "Hermeneutical Circle" between reader and text and back to reader

 

                                    b.         Problematic: "`discovering' in Scripture interests that were established prior to interpreting the Word of God. Every use of Scripture begins from some interest, but does that use allow Scripture to challenge that original position?" [Spohn, What Are They Saying?, p. 54]

 

                                    c.         Bringing a prior "agenda" to exegesis

 

                                    d.         Charge leveled especially against:

 

                                                (1)       Liberation theologians

 

                                                (2)       Feminist theologians

 

                                                (3)       Some efforts at inculturation of moral theology; especially in Africa

 

                                    e.         Historical evidences of the practice of this "hermeneutical circle": e.g. White American slave-owners' use of Paul.

 

                                    f.         This problematic is a critical one for Biblical ethics, and therefore must be faced.

 

                        2.         Corrective/avoidance of the problematic of the hermeneutical circle: [My own addition]

 

                                    a.         Necessity for ongoing discernment

 

                                    b.         Judgment of the Christian communities, including cross-cultural interpretations

 

                                    c.         Ethos critique

 

                        3.         Hermeneutical Triangle: Jacques Dupuis

 

                                    a.         Text (and context of the text),

 

                                    b.         Community (Tradition), and

 

                                    c.         Reader

 

                        4.         Hermeneutical Arch (between text and readers)

 

                                    a.         expression of Claude Geffré.

 

                                    b.         From his two books:

 

                        5.         Hermeneutical Double-Helix

 

                                    a.         James Bretzke

 

                                    b.         Dynamic and avoids some of the geometric problems engendered by the other models.

 

                                    c.         Fusion of horizons and effective history

 

                                    d.         Allows for more than one text to be "intertwined"

 

                                                (1)       The bible is not our only text, it interprets others, and others help interpret the bible.

 

                                                (2)       E.g., Our "reading" of the farewell scene between Achilles and Priam, after the death of Hector, in the Iliad--

 

                                                (3)       Presumably our "understanding" of the power of Christian reconciliation has something to do with our interpretation of this text.

 

                                                (4)       Whole point of the "inculturation" of Christianity in non-Christian cultures: i.e., how will the text "sound" in this or that con-"texts" setting.

 

                                                (5)       Allows, even calls for, the notion of the progressive revelation of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity for an ongoing discernment of spirits.

 

            L.        Much more to be said on hermeneutical theory, and

 

                        1.         we will seek to make some more comments in the treatment of the various themes and models of the use of Scripture in ethics throughout the remainder of the course.

 

                        2.         Especially in the models of

 

                                    a.         Liberation

 

                                    b.         Response to Revelation

 

                                    c.         and Call to Discipleship.

 

                        3.         However, I would recommend once again Croatto's or Schneiders' books.

 

            M.       Core readings:

 

                        1.         James M. Gustafson, "The Place of Scripture in Christian Ethics: A Methodological Study." Chapter 6 in Theology and Christian Ethics, 121-145. Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1974.

 

Also found in Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormick, S.J., eds., Readings in Moral Theology No. 4: The Use of Scripture in Moral Theology, 151-177. New York: Paulist Press, 1984.

 

                        2.         Start reading Spohn, especially the Introduction and the first two chapters.


 

XV.     SCRIPTURE AS THE COMMAND OF GOD

 

            A.        Brief Overview of the Model:

 

            B.        Neo-orthodox Protestantism: Bonhoeffer, Barth and Bultmann

 

            C.        Paradigm of divine summons, similar to that of Abraham or Moses, used in this approach.

 

            D.        Spohn's formulation: Answer to the moral question "`What ought I to do?' Its distinctive approach states: `Listen to the personal command of God directed to you and respond in obedient faith.'" p. 12.

 

            E.        Yet, here again we must ask our two guiding questions:

 

                        1.         What is the understanding of Scripture?

 

                        2.         What is the understanding of ethics?

 

                        3.         And how do the answers to these two questions interact and affect one another?


 

XVI.   HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THEOLOGICAL PROBLEMATIC WITH DIVINE COMMAND ETHICS

 

            A.        Sola Scriptura vs. Tradition/Magisterium Polemic

 

            B.        Protestant distrust of natural law moral reasoning

 

            C.        Roman Catholic uneasiness with lack of normative morality

 

            D.        Roman Catholic concern with the danger of Voluntarism

 

                        1.         Understood in general as placing the emphasis on morality as the fulfilling of God's will and/or commandments which God "legislates" for God's creatures.

 

                        2.         Issue arises of relation of God's will to moral goodness,

 

                                    a.         i.e., is something "good" only because God so wills it

 

                                    b.         and God could will otherwise,

 

                                    c.         or is something good in itself

 

                                    d.         which even God could not change without destroying God's own nature?

 

                        3.         Problematic aspect of voluntarism is understanding morality and moral goodness in this first sense, i.e., something is good only because God so wills it,

 

                        4.         and the moral response is to obey this divine "law"

 

                        5.         moral goodness then being predicated on simple obedience.

 

                        6.         Thus, law becomes the ultimate and supreme norm of the moral rightness of human action.

 

                        7.         Contrast this approach with the use of Recta Ratio and Thomas Aquinas' First Principle of the natural law


 

XVII.  RELATIONSHIP AMONG CHRISTOLOGY, SCRIPTURE, AND ETHICS

 

            A.        Role of Jesus Christ as savior and redeemer in the understanding of Christian ethics

 

            B.        Tri-partite Understanding of Revelation

 

                        1.         in Jesus Christ

 

                        2.         by Jesus Christ

 

                        3.         and through the Scriptures

 

            C.        Interpretation of Jesus's ethical teaching, and the never-ending question of what kind of ethics he meant to teach:

 

                        1.         "Normative"

 

                        2.         "Interim"

 

                        3.         "Eschatological"

 

                        4.         "Eschatological as Normative for Christians"

 

                                    a.         E.g., the position of Willi Marxsen:

 

                                    b.         interpretation based on the exegesis of the concept expressed in the Son of Man tradition:

 

                                    c.         "... we can give the following definition. The Christian Christology is that Christology in which eschatological existence is experienced and lived. Christian ethics is the actualization of this risky activity." [Willi Marxsen, New Testament Foundations for Christian Ethics, trans. O.C. Dean, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993): 86.


 

XVIII. BACKGROUND TO NEO-ORTHODOXY MOVEMENT

 

            A.        Disillusionment with Liberal Protestantism

 

            B.        Shock of World War I

 

            C.        Great Depression in Europe and America

 

            D.        Rise of Fascism

 

                        1.         "Less than two months after Hitler came to power, Barth claimed that the key danger facing the church is the temptation of having other gods.

 

                        2.         This temptation arises when revelation is joined with foreign authorities, such as human existence or the state.

 

                        3.         "He therefore called Christians to abandon `every kind of natural theology, and dare to trust only in the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ'." Douglas F. Ottati, "Between Foundationalism and Nonfoundationalism." Affirmation 4 (Fall, 1991): 31.]


 

XIX.   KARL BARTH: THE COMMAND OF GOD

 

            A.        Brief Biography: (1886--1968).

 

                        1.         German-speaking Swiss,

 

                        2.         Never took a doctorate!

 

                        3.         Influence on Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

                        4.         Neo-orthodoxy leader

 

                        5.         Early work which established his reputation was his theological commentary on the Epistle to the Romans published as Der Römerbrief (1918).

 

                                    a.         Not just a commentary.

 

                                    b.         Barth's governing thesis is that the problems confronting Paul were essentially the same as those confronting the contemporary preacher and theologian.

 

                        6.         Key Life Work: Church Dogmatics,

 

                                    a.         written from 1925 to 1955,

 

                                    b.         4 volumes

 

                                    c.         wide influence (though not always agreement!) on Protestant theologians, including Bonhoeffer.

 

                                    d.         See Dogmatik im Grundriß. Zürich: Evangelischer Verlag A.G. Zollikon, 1949.

 

                                    e.         In English as: Dogmatics in Outline. With a new Foreword by the author. Translated by G.T. Thomson. New York: Harper and Row, 1959.

 

            B.        Barth's definition of "dogmatics":

 

                        1.         "Dogmatics is the science in which the Church,

 

                        2.         in accordance with the state of its knowledge at different times,

 

                        3.         takes account of the content of its proclamation critically, that is,

 

                        4.         by the standard of Holy Scripture

 

                        5.         and under the guidance of its Confessions." Dogmatics in Outline, p. 9.

 

            C.        Barth's elaboration of the project of "dogmatics":

 

                        1.         "In dogmatics we do not ask whence Church proclamation comes and what its form is.

 

                        2.         In dogmatics our question is: What are we to think and say?

 

                        3.         Of course, that comes after we have learned from Scripture where we have to draw this `what' from,

 

                        4.         and keeping in view the fact that we have to say something not just theoretically,

 

                        5.         but have to call something out to the world." p. 12, Dogmatics in Outline.

 

            D.        Barth's understanding of faith, divided into four categories

 

                        1.         "...faith involves in spite of,

 

                        2.         once for all,

 

                        3.         exclusively and

 

                        4.         entirely,..." p. 19.

 

            E.        Elaboration of Barth's four categories of faith:

 

                        1.         "When we believe, we must believe in spite of God's hiddenness." p. 20.

 

                        2.         "And faith is concerned with a decision once for all.

 

                                    a.         Faith is not an opinion replaceable by another opinion.

 

                                    b.         A temporary believer does not know what faith is.

 

                                    c.         Faith means a final relationship." p. 20.

 

                        3.         "And, thirdly, faith is concerned with our holding to God exclusively, because God is the One who is faithful." p. 21.

 

                        4.         "And, in conclusion, we may hold entirely to God's Word.

 

                                    a.         Faith is not concerned with a special realm, that of religion, say,

 

                                    b.         but with real life in its totality,

 

                                                (1)       the outward as well as the inward questions,

 

                                                (2)       that which is bodily as well as that which is spiritual,

 

                                                (3)       the brightness as well as the gloom in our life." p. 21.

 

            F.        According to Spohn, Barth adopts a sort of modern Sola Scriptura theological method:

 

                        1.         "...Barth adopted the theological method he found in Luther and Calvin.

 

                        2.         He returned to the plain sense of Scripture and articulated dogma in service of preaching the Gospel.

 

                        3.         Like the reformers, he eschewed any dependence on philosophy to back up his theology.

 

                        4.         Any such alliance would only make the Gospel the lesser partner and reduce it to the wisdom of the current culture." [Spohn, p. 27.]

 

            G.        Law: The Claim of the Gospel

 

                        1.         For Barth no distinction between Law and Gospel

 

                        2.         The Law neither precedes the Gospel, nor is it an added obligation, but

 

                        3.         rather is completely enclosed in the Gospel. cf. p. 28.

 

                        4.         The claim of the Gospel can be heard only by obeying it.

 

                        5.         God's grace is experienced through His Lordship over our conduct.

 

                        6.         "Either we acknowledge this Lordship or we do not know the grace of Christ.

 

                        7.         Law is the form of the Gospel, whose content is Christ.

 

                        8.         This claim is intrinsic to the saving events: morality is our joyful correspondence to the action of God in history.

 

                        9.         Our conduct must conform to, witness and imitate the victory of Christ." p. 28.

 

                        10.       "The moral demand is unconditional because it comes from an unconditional source." p. 29.

 

            H.        Need and Place for Ongoing Moral Discernment

 

                        1.         "Obligations bombard us daily, and

 

                        2.         we must discern which of these are actually from God by attending to the type of claim they make upon us." p. 29.

 

                        3.         Two Principal Signs in this Discernment:

 

                                    a.         "Divine commands will be experienced as positive gifts rather than obligations." p. 29.

 

                                    b.         "The divine command always directs us toward imitation of Jesus Christ because he is the pre-eminent and definitive manifestation of God's grace." p. 30.

 

            I.         Witnessing in Action the Attitude of Christ

 

                        1.         "Barth turns the content question, `What are we to do?' back into a formal question that is a religious matter first and a moral one second.

 

                        2.         What seems to be a question of content is actually one of religious assent in faith." p. 30.

 

                        3.         "Scripture, therefore, provides summaries of God's commands, attitudes that should inform our obedience, and directions of freedom inherent in the gift itself." p. 32.

 

            J.         Respect and Protect Life

 

                        1.         Life is God's gift, taught through the blessing of creation. God's command creates respect for it:

 

                        2.         "Respect is man's astonishment, humility and awe at a fact in which he meets something superior--

 

                                    a.         "majesty, dignity, holiness, a mystery

 

                                    b.         "which compels him to withdraw and keep his distance,

 

                                    c.         "to handle it modestly, circumspectly and carefully." [quote from Barth's Church Dogmatics III/4, p. 339].

 

            K.        Moral Norms in God's Command?

 

                        1.         "The Bible tells us what God commands as well as how he commands.

 

                        2.         The Spirit of Jesus can be expected to lead the Christian in definite directions." [Spohn, p. 35.]

 

            L.        Evaluation of Barth's Approach

 

                        1.         Positive Points

 

                                    a.         Like many Protestants, Barth takes Scripture very seriously for informing our ethical life.

 

                                    b.         Faith involving the totality of one's life, and not just a "religious" sphere.

 

                                    c.         Positive role of discernment in Christian life.

 

                                    d.         Restoration of possibility of norms in Christian ethics.

 

                                    e.         Corrective to excessive existentialism.

 

                        2.         Negative Points

 

                                    a.         The "missing element" according to Spohn:

 

                                    b.         "Finally, one must admit that something is missing from this theological ethics.

 

                                    c.         All the characteristics of the moral agent are derived from the event of being addressed by the Word of God.

 

                                    d.         Moral agents have character, a unique history and moral responsibility only because they are constantly addressed by God.

 

                                    e.         The self cannot be considered apart from God's action.

 

                                    f.         This leads to an impoverished view of moral experience

 

                                    g.         because there seems to be no self between moments when God is commanding.

 

                                    h.         Moral life is more than simply discrete moments of decision;

 

                                    i.         it refers to the continuous aspects of the self: virtues and vices, character, identity, memory, commitments and roles.

 

                                    j.         Even if one grants the priority of the faith assent over moral reflection on theological grounds,

 

                                    k.         Barth seems to have maximized the role of obedient faith at the expense of a coherent sense of the moral self." p. 35.

 

                                    l.         Barth seems to over-absolutize "faith", at least in his affirmation that faith "is concerned with a decision once for all.

 

                                                (1)       Faith is not an opinion replaceable by another opinion.

 

                                                (2)       A temporary believer does not know what faith is.

 

                                                (3)       Faith means a final relationship." p. 20.:

 

                        3.         Relation of the whole moral autonomy school vs. this sort of exaggerated theonomy.

 

                        4.         Problems with Barth's very low "ecclesiology"

 

                                    a.         which would impinge especially on social ethics,

 

                                    b.         and the possibility of Church Tradition and the Magisterium.


 

XX.     DIETRICH BONHOEFFER'S APPROACH

 

            A.        Brief Biography of Bonhoeffer

 

                        1.         Bonhoeffer was born 4 February 1906 in Breslau into a Lutheran, upper-class family. His father was a noted psychiatrist.

 

                        2.         Bonhoeffer was imprisoned in April 1943 and hanged at the age of 39 by the Gestapo in the Nazi concentration camp at Flossenbürg in April 1945.

 

                        3.         Most major works were published posthumously by his long-time friend Eberhard Bethge.

 

                        4.         The testimony of Bonhoeffer's own life could furnish an important interpretive key for reading his theology; e.g.,

 

                        5.         notion of conversion and growth in discipleship is found more in Bonhoeffer's biography than in Bonhoeffer's writings.

 

            B.        Importance of Bonhoeffer's Notion of "Reading Against" in the use of Scripture:

 

                        1.         "Bonhoeffer's point was that previously he had read the Bible for himself, but now he discovered the importance of reading Scripture over-against himself." [Fowl and Jones, p. 140].

 

                        2.         "Bonhoeffer began to see more clearly that seeing the Bible as a `source' meant that we could simply read the Bible for ourselves. Reading it pneumatologically, however, and seeing Scripture as `testimony', meant that we would need to read Scripture over-against ourselves." [Fowl and Jones, p. 141].

 

                        3.         Thus, reading the Bible "against" the dominant culture or Zeitgeist.

 

                        4.         Necessity of doing this "in communion" i.e., in a faith community

 

                        5.         See this aspect in Bonhoeffer's own life

 

                                    a.         In the Confessing Church

 

                                    b.         In Finkenwalde

 

                        6.         See Stephen E. Fowls and L. Gregory Jones, Reading in Communion: Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1991).

 

                                    a.         "Christian communities must be aware of the possibilities of interpreting Scripture in such a way that it supports rather // subverts corrupt and sinful practices.

 

                                    b.         "This means that we Christians will need to learn to read the Scriptures `over-against ourselves' rather than simply `for ourselves'.

 

                                    c.         "This is the sense in which our `readings of the texts' involve allowing the texts to provide readings of us." [Fowl and Jones, pp. 41-42].

 

                                    d.         Thus, we need to be "interrogated by Scripture in addition to interrogating Scripture." [Fowl and Jones, p. 42].

 

                        7.         This "Reading over against" notion fits in with my use of a lectio continua.

 

            C.        Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

 

                        1.         Nachfolge. München: Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1937.

 

                                    a.         Written in the Nazi era, after Bonhoeffer had already begun to experience difficulty

 

                                    b.         Translations appeared mostly after the War, and had a great effect in post-War theology.

 

                        2.         Bonhoeffer answers the two questions of What is Scripture and What is Ethics in relationship first and foremost to another question, "What is the Church?"

 

                                    a.         Note his first sentence: "Revival of church life always brings in its train a richer understanding of the Scriptures." [Cost of Discipleship, p. 37]

 

                                    b.         Bonhoeffer's quest: "the sole object of it all [revival of church life], Jesus Christ himself." [Cost, p. 37.]

 

            D.        Bonhoeffer's Ethical Ecclesiology

 

                        1.         The Church must be subservient to these questions:

 

                                    a.         "In the last resort*, what we want to know is not, what would this or that man, or this or that Church, have of us, but what Jesus Christ himself wants of us." p. 37

 

                                    b.         *[zuletzt wichtig {I'd say "in the final analysis" would be a better translation}]

 

                        2.         Bonhoeffer's Model of the Church: Herald:

 

                                    a.         "When we go to church and listen to the sermon, what we want to hear is his Word--and that not merely for selfish reasons,

 

                                    b.         but for the sake of many for whom the Church and her message are foreign." p. 37.

 

                                    c.         "The real trouble is that the pure Word of Jesus has been overlaid with so much human ballast--burdensome rules and regulations, false hopes and consolations--that it has become extremely difficult to make a genuine decision for Christ." p. 38.

 

            E.        Law and Gospel: Key problem for the Church:

 

                        1.         Spohn raises the question in these words: "How can we recapture the legitimate urgency of Gospel obedience without falling into the trap of legalism, which tries to purchase God's favor with good works?

 

                        2.         We must discover a more integral connection between Law and Gospel." [Spohn, p. 21.]

 

            F.        Bonhoeffer's Hermeneutical Principle of Obedience:

 

                        1.         "The only response to such an absolute Word can be absolute// obedience. Obedience is not the product of a faith which could have been present already: it is faith's immediate expression.

 

                        2.         "And such obedience cannot try to drift off into the illusory sphere of some purely interior life. It must be at once <simple> and direct." [Marlé, pp. 80-81].

 

                        3.         From The Cost of Discipleship: "The call goes forth, and is at once followed by the response of obedience. The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus. How could the call immediately evoke obedience?" p. 61

 

                        4.         Bonhoeffer's answer:

 

"And why? For the simple reason that the cause behind the immediate following of call by response is Jesus Christ himself." [Cost, p. 61].

 

            G.        Christology of Call & Obedience:

 

                        1.         "This encounter [between Levi and Jesus] is a testimony to the absolute, direct, and unaccountable authority of Jesus.

 

                        2.         "There is no need of any preliminaries, and no other consequence but obedience to the call.

 

                        3.         "Because Jesus is the Christ, he has the authority to call and to demand obedience to his word.

 

                        4.         "Jesus summons men to follow him not as a teacher or a pattern of the good life, but as the Christ, the Son of God." [Cost, p. 62].

 

            H.        Radical Discipleship: Summons (Command) to Obedience

 

                        1.         (Negative) Model of the Rich Young Man:

 

                                    a.         "When confronted by the summons to discipleship, the young man [of Matthew 19] and all of us face a yes or no choice.

 

                                    b.         "Only if he is obedient and follows Jesus down the road can the man enter into that relationship with Jesus in which he may know the mercy and graciousness of God." p. 21.

 

                        2.         "Moral clarity is not a pre-condition of discipleship." p. 22.

 

                        3.         "Unquestioning obedience is possible only because it is the trusting assent of faith in the One who is unconditionally trustworthy." p. 22.

 

            I.         Bonhoeffer calls such discipleship "liberating"

 

                        1.         "When the Bible speaks of following Jesus, it is proclaiming a discipleship which will liberate mankind

 

                                    a.         from all man-made dogmas,

 

                                    b.         from every burden and oppression,

 

                                    c.         from every anxiety and torture which afflicts the conscience.

 

                        2.         "If they follow Jesus, men escape from the hard yoke of their own laws, and submit to the kindly yoke of Jesus Christ.

 

                        3.         "...We can only achieve perfect liberty and enjoy fellowship with Jesus when his command, his call to absolute discipleship, is appreciated in its entirety.

 

                        4.         "Only the man who follows the command of Jesus single-mindedly, and unresistingly lets his yoke rest upon him, finds his burden easy, and under its gentle pressure receives the power to persevere in the right way.

 

                        5.         "The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it." [Cost of Discipleship, p. 40.]

 

            J.         Where does Christian discipleship lead?:

 

                        1.         "And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand?

 

                        2.         "To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer.

 

                        3.         "Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey's end.

 

                        4.         "But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy." [Cost of Discipleship, p. 41.]

 

            K.        The Cross of Christ as Moral Standard for Bonhoeffer

 

                        1.         "For Bonhoeffer, the cross is the true measure of Christology in ethics.

 

                        2.         "Jesus is the image of God, the standard for humanity that overrules any philosophical definition.

 

                        3.         "Nothing is more revealing of Christ that his sufferings, nothing more definitive for the way of discipleship." [Spohn, p. 22.]

 

                        4.         "The cross is the sign of contradiction, which revolutionizes all our personal values and projects.

 

                        5.         "Each value must be submitted to the unique historical standard of the cross and resurrection of Christ to determine its actual meaning." [Spohn, p. 23.]

 

            L.        Metaphor of "Hearing"

 

                        1.         "As in the writings of the other proponents of the command of God, the metaphor of hearing is central:

 

                        2.         it is not the disciple's responsibility to figure out how to follow, but only to hear and obey wholeheartedly." [Spohn, p. 24.]

 

            M.       Evaluation of Bonhoeffer's Approach

 

                        1.         Positive Points:

 

                                    a.         Underlines the importance of all aspects of our moral life.

 

                                    b.         Has strong Biblical basis in terms of discipleship.

 

                        2.         Negative Points:

 

                                    a.         Rather too sharply dichotomized: either you're obedient (and moral), or you're not (and dammed?)

 

                                    b.         Lack of gradualism and growth in this model

 

                                    c.         "Obey or be punished" is rather low level of moral maturity (Kohlberg Level One).

 

                                    d.         Therefore, little room for use of human reason, intelligence and wisdom.


 

XXI.   SUMMARY OF DIVINE COMMAND APPROACH

 

            A.        Perduring Problem of Natural law-based moral normativity vs. Revelation-based moral normativity

 

                        1.         Challenge of subjectivity 

 

                        2.         Example of "normative eschatological ethics" based on a textual variant of Luke 6:5 found in Codex D (cf. Marxsen, p. 92).

 

            B.        Relation to the issue of how ethics is Christian

 

 

XXII.  SCRIPTURE AS MORAL REMINDER

 

            A.        Our two basic questions:

 

                        1.          For Fuchs, the primary and logically prior question would be “What is ‘ethics’?”

 

                                    a.         Look again at the “handout” on definitions of moral theology and/or Christian ethics, and see Fuchs’ “definition”:

 

                                    b.         "For it is the moral theologian's task in the Church to identify the relationships between ethos and moral ordinance with the faith, to undertake the hermeneutic reading of the Bible in the awareness of moral questions, to read hermeneutically the moral traditions (and their history) that have grown up in the course of time, to deepen and develop moral values, to establish moral principles and norms credibly and contextually, to clarify the significance for correct moral behavior of the findings of other sciences, to tackle newly arising moral problems, etc." Joseph Fuchs, S.J., "Teaching Morality: The Tension Between Bishops and Theologians Within the Church," in Christian Ethics in a Secular Arena, (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown U. Press, 1984): 138-139.

 

                                    c.         In short, for humans I think Fuchs would say the task of ethics is expressed in this sentence: “the task and the real possibility for human beings to discover, on their own, values and norms for their self-realization." Josef Fuchs, “Christianity, Christian Ethics and the Crisis of Values “, Ch. 2 in Christian Ethics in a Secular Arena, (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown U. Press, 1984): 21.

 

                                    d.         This task involves, for Fuchs, not only a “teaching” or “discovery” of norms and values,

 

                                    e.         But also a “paranetic” and a “maiuetic” dimension which follows upon the discovery or realization of moral norms. This is where Scripture comes into play essentially.

 

                                                (1)       Parentic is to exhort

 

                                                (2)       Maiuetic is to help bring to birth (“mid-wife”)

 

                        2.         What is Scripture:

 

                                    a.         A somewhat “functional” answer seems to be given, vis-a-vis, the relationship to ethics,

 

                                    b.         Thus, Scripture plays this paranetic and maiuetic role:

 

                                    c.         "The maieutic scope consists in the explicit affirmation of certain extremely high values, for instance, love of neighbor and also of one's enemy; this explicit affirmation serves to help man in the difficult task of discovering the highest and most demanding values and norms." Fuchs, Christian Ethics in a Secular Arena, p. 22.

 

                                    d.         This role is important, but Fuchs seems to think it is not done “consistently” throughout the Bible, and therefore from the point of view of methodology, Scripture could not be the primary locus of “doing ethics”:

 

                                                (1)       "Our conclusion is, therefore, that the preaching of values and concrete norms in the New Testament is mostly not a new teaching but has rather a parenetic and maieutic task. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that parenetic and maieutic preaching was not done systematically, but only occasionally and sporadically." Fuchs, Christian Ethics in a Secular Arena p. 22.

 

                                                (2)       Thus, there seems to be a clear inference for Fuchs that the task of Christian ethics is the explication of a normative code, rather than emphasis on Christian moral formation.

 

            B.        Brief Overview of the Model:

 

                        1.         Explanation of how the term was changed by Fuchs himself from "Moral Teacher" to "Moral Reminder" (Role of the Paraclete)

 

                        2.         According to Spohn, Fuchs would answer the moral question, "What ought I to do?" in these words:

 

                                    a.         "`Be human,

 

                                    b.         for the Lord has redemptively accepted your humanity in the incarnation'.

 

                                    c.         God's intentions for humanity are structured into our innermost drives and recognized by reasonable reflection.

 

                                    d.         The grace of Christ restores and elevates that humanity which never completely lost its status as `image of God.'

 

                                    e.         When we recognize what is authentically human, we are in effect discovering the will of God for us." [Spohn, p. 36.]

 

                        3.         Function of Scripture to act as a moral reminder:

 

                                    a.         "Scripture reminds us what it means to be human and

 

                                    b.         calls us to live an integral human life that our egotism would ignore.

 

                                    c.         However, the Gospel does not ask us to be something other than human;

 

                                    d.         rather it calls us to full humanity in relation to God and empowers us to live it.

 

                                    e.          Christians believe that full humanity is possible only through the grace of Christ." p. 36.

 

                        4.         Absolutely key to Fuchs’ understanding of ethics (and therefore any role Scripture might play in this) is the received and reinterpreted notion of the natural moral law. Therefore, we should turn to a brief excursus on what that natural law is understood to be.

 

            C.        Natural Law Overview

 

                        1.         Scriptural Passage: Locus Classicus (Rm. 2:12-15)

 

                                    a.         "All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

 

                                    b.         For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

 

                                    c.         (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law,

 

                                    d.         since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (NIV)

 

                        2.         Basic overview of natural law theory

 

                                    a.         Ontological and metaphysical

 

                                    b.         Knowable

 

                                    c.         Normable

 

                                    d.         Normative, i.e., Performable

 

                                    e.         Universalizable

 

                                    f.         Universal

 

                                                (1)       Trans-historical

 

                                                (2)       Trans-cultural

 

            D.        Key Concepts of the Natural Law

 

                        1.         Principle of Exitus et reditus

 

                        2.         Inter-relation of the lex aeterna and the natural law

 

                        3.         Recta ratio

 

                        4.         Lex indita, non scripta

 

                                    a.         I.e., the New Testament “law of grace”

 

                                    b.         Relation to human conscience

 

                        5.         Fundamental and most universal principle of the natural moral law: Bonum est faciendum et prosequendum, et malum vitandum

 

                                    a.         Translate accurately

 

                                    b.         The task of ethics then is discovery and application according to reason

 

                                    c.         Not a voluntaristic “obedience”

 

                        6.         Levels of moral norms, with decreasing “certainty” and increasing “contingency”

 

            E.        Fuchs’ two key articles on the Image of God and the Phenomenon of Conscience

 

                        1.          "Our Image of God and the Morality of Innerworldly Behavior." Chapter 3 in Christian Morality: The Word Became Flesh, 28-49. Translated by Brian McNeil. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press; Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1987.

 

                                    a.         Beware of overly “anthromorphisizing” God

 

                                    b.         God is neither a “commander” nor a “ruler” who stands “outside” or “alongside” of humans, sending in “categorial” moral demands

 

                                    c.         But God is within us, and therefore our human conscience is seen as our innermost sanctuary, i.e., where we encounter God as the holy Other, and where no other authority may legitimately enter by force.

 

                        2.         "The Phenomenon of Conscience: Subject-Orientation and Object-Orientation." Chapter 8 in Christian Morality: The Word Became Flesh, 118-133. Translated by Brian McNeil. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press; Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1987.

 

                                    a.         Subjective–Objective “pole” (not dichotomy)

 

                                    b.         Thus, the understanding of what “objective” truly means: “objectively” true for this “subject”

 

            F.        These important reflections on the nature of God and the nature of human conscience come together in a certain way when we consider the relevance of the Incarnation for human ethics:

 

                        1.         Christ became human, and thus has taken up and redeemed all of humanity

 

                        2.         Thus, in a recap in two words, with reference to Christology, the ethical “action” question of “What ought I to do?”

 

                        3.         “I must be human because the Lord has embraced that humanity in the incarnation." [Spohn, p. 13.]


 

XXIII. FUCHS' ELABORATION OF THE MORAL REMINDER APPROACH

 

            A.        Fuchs' Theological Context

 

                        1.         Enlightenment legacy

 

                        2.         Collapse of natural law seen in World War II totalitarian states

 

                        3.         Post-Christian Western Europe

 

            B.        Role and Relation of the Individual in Fuchs' scheme:

 

                        1.         "God can call individuals to unique vocations through the action of the Holy Spirit,

 

                        2.         but Fuchs does not believe that vocational experiences are the paradigm of Christian morality.

 

                        3.         God's will is ordinarily mediated through the human experience of the Christian." p. 44.

 

                        4.         [Here Bonhoeffer would most likely not agree

 

                                    a.         {nor do I};

 

                                    b.         Fuchs seems to have a rather specialized and exalted notion of the Christian vocation].

 

                        5.         Moral life of the individual:

 

                                    a.         According to Fuchs, in the performance of our daily duties we respond to God, albeit in a mediated manner.

 

                                    b.         "`Moreover,' asserts Fuchs, `to emphasize this explicitly it is of vital importance from the moral and religious point of view that we conceive the demand of the natural law

 

                                                (1)       in the concrete situation

 

                                                (2)       as the personal demand of the God

 

                                                (3)       to the personal man.

 

                                    c.         The spiritual encounter of man with his own being, the confrontation of his interior and exterior worlds, is in fact an encounter with God.' [NL, p. 132]

 

                        6.         Fuchs' criticism with Barth:

 

                                    a.         To preserve God's sovereignty, Barth at times emphasized the discontinuities between ordinary human morality and the command of God.

 

                                    b.         Fuchs, on the other hand, stresses the continuity to safeguard the consistency between God and his creation.

 

                                    c.         For both theologians, however, the absoluteness of the moral demand ultimately rests on the authority of the Absolute God." p. 44.

 

            C.        Fuchs' Use and Development of Rahner's Anthropology

 

                        1.         Fuchs employs the term "Christian intentionality" to refer to this stance, or in other words, to this core commitment to God.

 

                        2.         "It transforms natural obligations and virtues from within by giving them a personal reference to God they could not have on their own.

 

                        3.         Moreover, the power of the Spirit makes these obligations and virtues part of the person's character so they become habitual.

 

                        4.         In content, these virtues and moral standards are what constitute any serious moral life.

 

                        5.         God's will is unitary: that we be human in [Jesus] Christ." [Spohn's explanation, p. 47.]

 

                        6.         Example: both Christians and non-Christians are called to act justly (i.e. follow the same moral standards), but for the Christian the specific Christian intentionality should enter here.

 

                        7.         Fuchs: "Christian motivation provides human conduct with a deeper and richer meaning,

 

                        8.         which is subjectively part of the action itself." [Spohn, p. 47; Fuchs, "Is There a Specific Christian Morality," in Curran & McCormick, No. 2, p. 15.]


 

XXIV. BRUNO SCHÜLLER'S APPROACH TO ETHICS

 

            A.        Bruno Schüller's Biblical Exhortation Not Instruction

 

                        1.         Key article, "The Debate on the Specific Character of Christian Ethics: Some Remarks"

 

                                    a.         The German original appeared in 1976 in Theologie und Philosophie 51 (1976): 321-343, under the title "Zur Discussion über das Proprium einer christlichen Ethik."

 

                                    b.         which first appeared in English in 1980 in Readings in Moral Theology, No. 2, Curran and McCormick, eds. pp.207-233.

 

                                    c.         Also found in English in Schüller's book, Chapter 1 of Wholly Human: Essays on the Theory and Language of Morality, 15-42. Translated by Peter Heinegg. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan; Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1986.

 

                        2.         Biblical revelation does not confer a distinctiveness upon Christian ethics by furnishing moral norms otherwise inaccessible to human knowing.

 

                        3.         Schüller thus concludes that those biblical imperatives derived from the Covenant theme in the OT and the Gospel in the NT should not be considered as normative ethics.

 

                        4.         Instead, Schüller credits the Bible and Jesus insofar as he is a moral teacher with giving a hortatory (paranetic [Greek word for "exhort"]) influence on Christian morals.

 

                        5.         Schüller's distinction between normative ethical formulation and paranetic discourse:

 

                                    a.         "Schüller contrasts paranetic discourse with normative ethical formulation more or less as the appeal to abide by a moral rule is contrasted with the enunciation of the rule itself." [Gaffney, p. 24]

 

                                    b.         Thus, Schüller seems to imply that normative ethical discourse is logically anterior to paranetic discourse:

 

                                    c.         "Thus the force of paranetic discourse is basically motivational, whereas the force of normative discourse is taken to be mainly declarative or demonstrative." p.24.

 

                        6.         Distinction between new moral insights in Scripture (none, according to Schüller), and

 

                        7.         Hortatory nature of much Biblical ethics (paranesis)

 

                        8.         Schüller seeks to avoid "a `Christonomous moral positivism'

 

                                    a.         which he finds in Barth and others,

 

                                    b.         whereby mercy or justice is good only because Christ has decreed it so.

 

                                    c.         Christian motivations may deepen the subjective meaning of justice and compassion,

 

                                    d.         but they cannot constitute their moral validity." [Spohn, p. 51.]

 

            B.        Critique of Bruno Schüller and certain aspects of the Moral Autonomy/Faith Ethics Debate

 

                        1.         Pose again the two governing questions of the course: What is (his view of) Ethics, and What is (his view of) Scripture?

 

                        2.         We get a strong (if unintentional) hint of Schüller’s answer to these questions in a statement he made in an earlier article:

 

                                    a.         "There are really only relatively few individual precepts that the NT sets forth explicitly. To the extent that the word of revelation does contain individual precepts of the law of Christ, it probably intends to help people out at those points where they have not yet managed to apprehend moral precepts on their intrinsic grounds. Even if human beings should never manage to dispense with this assistance totally, nonetheless they should strive to require it as little as possible."

 

                                    b.         From his 1966 essay, "Zur theologischen Diskussion über die lex naturalis," 41 (1966): 481-503, found in English as "A Contribution to the Theological Discussion of Natural Law," in Readings in Moral Theology, No. 7: Natural Law and Theology,ed. Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormick, S.J., (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1991): 89.

 

                        3.         Problematic with the rigidity of the debate, and an overly narrow “organizing metaphor” (ala Gustafson’s work on methodology)

 

                                    a.         Not an either/or dichotomy

 

                                    b.         Use of Scripture in ethics does not destroy moral autonomy

 

                                    c.         Nor does it lapse into fideism

 

                        4.         Models vs. Paradigm

 

                                    a.         Schüller's "metaethics" seems to be more a paradigm than a model

 

                                    b.         Insights from Kuhn's work on the nature of paradigms

 

                                                (1)       I will follow Ian Barbour's helpful article, "Paradigms in Science and Religion." In Paradigms and Revolutions: Applications and Appraisals of Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science, 223-245. Edited by Gary Gutting. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980.

 

                                                (2)       Rehearses the central themes of Thomas Kuhn's paradigm theory, some of its criticisms and Kuhn's own refinements, and then moves on to consider how a theory of paradigms can be applied to religions.

 

                                    c.         A research community/scholar can be dominated by a "paradigm" which

 

                                                (1)       Kuhn [via Barbour] describes as a "cluster of very broad conceptual and methodological presuppositions...," etc.

 

                                                (2)       [Which] transmit methodological and metaphysical assumptions along with key concepts." p. 223.

 

                                                (3)       These presuppositions, concepts,

 

                                                (4)       etc. in turn function as norms as to what constitutes "good" science (or in our case moral theology)

 

                                                (5)       And then lead "to the acquisition of `a strong network of commitments, conceptual, theoretical, instrumental, and methodological'." p. 224.

 

                                    d.         Difficulties in achieving a "paradigm shift"

 

                                                (1)       In normal research fundamental assumptions are not questioned and anomalies tend to be put aside, or accommodated by some sort of ad hoc modification.

 

                                                (2)       Any real change would amount to a "revolution" because essentially

 

                                                            (a)       "Paradigms are incompatible.

 

                                                            (b)       A new paradigm replaces the old;

 

                                                            (c)       it is not merely one more addition to a cumulative structure of ideas." p. 224.

 

                                                (3)       Scientists/scholars "resist such revolutions

 

                                                            (a)       because previous commitments have permeated all their thinking;

 

                                                            (b)       a new paradigm prevails only when the older generation has been `converted' to it,

 

                                                            (c)       or has died off and been replaced by a new generation." p. 225.

 

                                    e.         Observations are paradigm-dependent.

 

                                                (1)       "Paradigms determine the way a scientist sees the world." p. 225.

 

                                                (2)       "Scientists with rival paradigms may gather quite dissimilar sorts of data;

 

                                                (3)       the very features which are important for one may be incidental to the other." p. 225.

 

                                    f.         Criteria are also paradigm-dependent.

 

                                                (1)       "Competing paradigms offer differing judgments as to what sorts of solution are acceptable.

 

                                                (2)       There are no external standards on which to base a choice between paradigms, for standards are themselves products of paradigms.

 

                                                (3)       One can assess theories within the framework of a paradigm, but in a debate among paradigms there are no objective criteria.

 

                                                (4)       Paradigms cannot be falsified and are highly resistant to change.

 

                                                (5)       Adoption of a new paradigm is a `conversion'." p. 225.

 

                        5.         With the following example from Bruno Schüller we can see how this matrix of "paradigm" characteristics can function in an infelicitous manner.

 

            C.        Schüller's "Paradigm-Dependent" View of Scripture and Ethics

 

                        1.         From his essay, "Zur theologischen Diskussion über die lex naturalis," 41 (1966): 481-503.

 

                        2.         In English as "A Contribution to the Theological Discussion of Natural Law." In Readings in Moral Theology, No. 7: Natural Law and Theology, 72-98. Edited by Charles E. Curran and Richard A. McCormick, S.J. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1991.

 

                        3.         Schüller's view of paranesis:

 

                                    a.         "If the apostolic paranesis plays a comparatively secondary role in special moral theology, the reason is not that moral theologians did not study scripture,

 

                                    b.         but much more that by and large this paranesis only recalls what the whole world takes as self-evident." p. 88.

 

                        4.         Recall Schüller's rather incredible anti-scriptural bias noted above:

 

                                    a.         "There are really only relatively few individual precepts that the NT sets forth explicitly. To the extent that the word of revelation does contain individual precepts of the law of Christ, it probably intends to help people out at those points where they have not yet managed to apprehend moral precepts on their intrinsic grounds. Even if human beings should never manage to dispense with this assistance totally, nonetheless they should strive to require it as little as possible." p. 89.

 

                        5.         We need a corrective to this view!

 

            D.        Moral Significance of Paranesis

 

                        1.         Be careful of "denigrating" paranesis as "mere exhortation;"

 

                        2.         what moves people to convicted action is clearly at least as important as the "reasoning process" involved.

 

                        3.         Consider the Six C's of any valid moral argument:

 

                                    a.         comprehensive,

 

                                    b.         comprehensible,

 

                                    c.         consistent/coherent

 

                                    d.         credible, and

 

                                    e.         convincing

 

                                    f.         And Christian

 

                                    g.         Paranesis enters especially into these last two aspects.

 

                        4.         Moral Authority of Scriptural Paranesis

 

                                    a.         Remember too that paranesis has more moral authority in a system more closely tied to a Scripture as sacred book/claim.

 

                                    b.         Recall Protestant idea of biblical "warrants" instead of natural law "norms".

 

                        5.         Problematic of moral "norms" in Scripture

 

                                    a.         Not the point of the ethical material in Scripture

 

                                    b.         Avoid conceiving of moral norms in a positivistic sense.

 

                                    c.         Consider what is involved in the "discovery" of moral norms and values.

 

                                    d.         Discovery here is not like a scavenger or Easter egg hunt.

 

                                    e.         Discovery implies "making" this value one's own, and here paranesis is important,

 

                                    f.         though albeit difficult to quantify and codify (probably accounting for its "non-reception" by moralists such as Schüller).

 

            E.        James Gaffney: Moral Significance of Paranesis

 

                        1.         "On Paranesis and Fundamental Moral Theology." The Journal of Religious Ethics 11 (1983): 24-34.

 

                        2.         This article is a response to Bruno Schüller's article, "The Debate on the Specific Character of Christian Ethics: Some Remarks"

 

                        3.         "Moral norms are not reasoning; rather they are propositions involved in reasoning as premises, as conclusions, or as both." p.27.

 

                        4.         "In a deductive system, formal moral norms would be involved mainly as premises, and material norms [i.e., specific, concrete actions commanded or prohibited {e.g., no artificial contraception}] mainly as conclusions." p.27

 

                        5.         "In an inductive system, they would be oppositely involved." p.27.

 

                        6.         "But in no rational system could material norms be equated with reasoning while formal norms were contrasted with it." p.27.

 

                        7.         Gaffney's example of the effect of the Jesus story on a believer's life:

 

                                    a.         a coed changed her view on permitting case-by-case abortions in non-life-threatening circumstances after realizing that Jesus would not have condoned such a position, and that she "admired" Jesus for his ethical stance.

 

                                    b.         Gaffney's analysis is that the coed was not convinced by ethical normative reasoning as such, but rather by the appeal (paranesis) that she felt Jesus would have made in this case.

 

                                    c.         Whereas Schüller would probably interpret this case as the coed responded to paranesis [this fact is incontestable], only because she "must already have adopted Jesus' norms, and only now come to perceive what was their true bearing on the abortion question." p.30.

 

                        8.         Paranesis does lead to new moral insights, at least on the individual basis

 

                        9.         Parenthetically, the experience and book of James Loder, The Transforming Moment: Understanding Convictional Experiences. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

 

                        10.       Gaffney's own position: One cannot draw a complete and sharp dichotomy between paranesis and ethical norms:

 

                        11.       "For every ethical norm is paranetic, both intrinsically and reductively. To look for non-paranetic norms on which all paranesis depend is only the notoriously futile quest for some <is> on which all <oughts> depend." p.31.

 

                        12.       But on the other hand--> "Pure paranesis is moral vapor; the only response to <I exhort> is a look of expectation: the verb requires a direct and indirect object." p.31.

 

                        13.       Gaffney's conclusion: a combination approach:

 

                                    a.         "The view I have recommended as conformable to actual and traditional usage would regard moral norms as inextricably combining a kind of intellectual stating

 

                                    b.         with a kind of emotional urging." p.32.

 

            F.        Other aspects of the evaluation of the approach, Scripture as a Moral Reminder

 

                        1.         Stance toward Scripture itself more flexible:

 

                                    a.         When Scripture is a moral reminder, the theologian is less bound by some of its particular mandates,

 

                                    b.         which we now see are limits of an outdated culture.

 

                                    c.         The more flexible notion of human nature in more recent moral theology admits that nature does change through history.

 

                                    d.         Hence, some of the institutions that were taken for granted as natural in the Mediterranean cultures of the first century are no longer binding for us today.

 

                                    e.         Just as human nature changes with time, so do the moral standards flowing from it." p. 51.

 

                                    f.         Example: women cover your heads, wives be submissive to your husbands.

 

                        2.         Yet, perhaps Scripture tends to lose some of its moral force, its claim (a key concern of people like Bonhoeffer and Barth).

 

                        3.         Ultimately, I find this approach encumbered by a rather narrow concept of what “ethics” is, which in turn constricts the range of potential contributions “Scripture” might bring to the ethical sphere.


 

XXV.  HISTORICAL/THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND OF SCRIPTURE AS CALL TO LIBERATION

 

            A.        Socio-economic system of Latin America: feudal structure with capitalist economic model: a deadly, deadly combination.

 

            B.        Discrediting of the Economic "Development" Model of the 1960's, e.g. JFK's "Alliance for Progress"

 

            C.        European Political Theology of Metz and Moltmann

 

            D.        Return of Latin American Theologians trained in Europe: knew all the answers to questions the people weren't asking.

 

                        1.         Gustavo Gutiérrez in France, even at the PUG.

 

                        2.         Leonardo Boff, O.F.M. in Germany, student of Joseph Ratzinger

 

                        3.         Jon Sobrino, S.J. Spanish Jesuit, studied in the States, and elsewhere

 

            E.        Close of Vatican II and 1968 Medellín Conference of CELAM.

 

            F.        Publication of Gustavo Gutiérrez's A Theology of Liberation (English trans. 1973 by Orbis).


 

XXVI. FRAMING OF INTERPLAY BETWEEN SCRIPTURE AND ETHICS IN LIBERATION AND FEMINIST THEOLOGY

 

            A.        If we were to cast the thesis of Gutiérrez's A Theology of Liberation in terms of the familiar moral question, "What ought I to do?" the response would be:

 

                        1.         "Act to liberate the oppressed because God is on their side." [Spohn, p. 54.]

 

                        2.         Note what sort of ethics this response entails (i.e. a religiously-based one)

 

                        3.         Note what arguments then are not being invoked, i.e., philosophically-based universal human rights language.

 

                        4.         This distinction/choice will be important in the eventual evaluation and critique of liberation theology.

 

            B.        But, again more importantly will be our two guiding questions which we address also to liberation and feminist theologians:

 

                        1.         What is their understanding of Scripture?

 

                        2.         What is their understanding of ethics?


 

XXVII.           KEY BIBLICAL THEMES USED IN LIBERATION THEOLOGY

 

            A.        Exodus Model

 

                        1.         "Three themes of the Old Testament define the meaning of exodus for Gutiérrez:

 

                        2.         the link between salvation and creation,

 

                                    a.         "It points to the goal of the liberating process, the creation of a new type of humanity, one unburdened from the exploitation of present social structures.

 

                                    b.         The exodus created a people where one did not exist; it was also a this-worldly act of salvation that embraced and transformed the whole human reality of the freed slaves." p. 59.

 

                        3.         the eschatological promises of the prophets

 

                                    a.         "God's final deliverance promised by the prophets is the second key to understanding the exodus.

 

                                    b.          ...The prophets called for a radical break with the past and for a new exodus for Israel which could come about only if Israel addressed the social evils of the day." p. 60.

 

                                    c.         Connection then to this particular use of Scripture in ethics:

 

                                    d.         "The Church in our time must first denounce the existing contradictions in society with the vehemence of prophetic indictment before it can credibly announce the Gospel." p. 60.

 

                                    e.         Parenthetic remark: our use of Scripture in moral may well depend to a large extent on the particular model of the Church out of which we operate.

 

                                                (1)       Here the model of Church as Herald would be paramount,

 

                                                (2)       while a model such as Sacrament or Mystical Body might seem to fade into the background.

 

                                                (3)       It is important to let these models complement one another,

 

                                                (4)       and also to avoid reductionism--collapsing the Church into just or that model.

 

                        4.         the closeness of God to Israel as Emmanuel.

 

                                    a.         "The third clue to understanding the exodus is found in the Old Testament's teachings that God is closely committed to the people, even identified with the neighbor in need." [Spohn, p. 61].

 

                                    b.         Thus, the theological rationale for the so-called "preferential option for the poor."

 

                                    c.         Here Jesus Christ as particular fulfillment of this Old Testament theme is important.

 

                                                (1)       "Incarnation has a profound moral significance.

 

                                                (2)       Because Christ is incarnate in the neighbor's needs, we are called to an active and productive love that seeks out the neighbor, just as the Good Samaritan went out of his way to aid the man beaten by robbers." [Spohn, p. 61].

 

            B.        Liberation

 

                        1.         Notes that Gutiérrez successfully avoids the "trap of the early twentieth century proponents of the social gospel who too readily equated democratic reform with the arrival of God's Kingdom." p. 63.

 

                                    a.         Brief remark on the Social Gospel and its failure

 

                                    b.         Yet, this very failure and similarity is important in understanding the reluctance of many European and North American theologians to embrace fully the liberation theology project.

 

                        2.         For Gutiérrez liberation has 3 interdependent meanings:

 

                                    a.         political liberation,

 

                                    b.         the liberation of the human person throughout history, and

 

                                    c.         liberation from sin and admission to communion with God.'" [TL, p. 176; {Spohn, p. 63}].

 

            C.        Kingdom

 

                        1.         Here the work Johannes Fullenbach, S.V.D. is more developed than Gutiérrez et. al. [See F's The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Jesus' Message for Us Today. Manila: Divine Word Publications, 1989; Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1995]

 

                        2.         Notion of Kingdom can be a valid and important bridge concept between social ethics and other branches of theology, as well as Scripture.

 

                        3.         Other Liberation Theologians primarily use the concept of the Kingdom as an utopian vision of a new humanity.

 

                        4.         Unfortunately this "vision" is rarely clarified in terms of a developed ethics, and this is a major criticism of moral theologians such as Spohn and others have of liberation theologians.

 

                        5.         As Spohn trenchantly remarks, "This [lack of a theory of justice] is a significant omission because,

 

                        6.         in a time of revolution, certain moral standards must apply lest the social transformation be corrupted by vindictive violence and retribution." p. 63.

 

                        7.         My question: How do we keep the oppressed from becoming oppressors themselves, once they are liberated? Doesn't argue against liberation theology as such, but only against a certain "incompleteness" or perhaps a certain romanticism.

 

            D.        Realized Eschatology

 

                        1.         This is an area which needs more work, and is a locus of my critique of liberation theologians.

 

                        2.         For an important work in this area see Joachim Jeremias' monograph on the Sermon on the Mount: The Sermon on the Mount. Facet Books Biblical Series, no. 2. Translated by Norman Perrin. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1963.

 

                        3.         Again, this is an area treated well by Fullenbach; he speaks of "moments" of the in-breaking of the Kingdom, such as the 1986 Peoples' Power Revolution in the Philippines.


 

XXVIII.          THEOLOGICAL METHOD OF LIBERATION THEOLOGY

 

            A.        Reading of Scripture from posture of prior commitment to the poor:

 

                        1.         Central premise of all liberation theologians (including feminists):

 

                                    a.         "No neutral reading of Scripture can discern the call to liberation;

 

                                    b.         such a call presupposes a commitment to the poor and oppressed and

 

                                    c.         a willingness to act on their behalf.

 

                        2.         Niebuhr wrote that revelation is unintelligible from the spectator's viewpoint. [Cf. The Meaning of Revelation.]

 

                        3.         Gutiérrez goes one step further, insisting that only someone participating in the struggle for justice can hear God's word.

 

                                    a.         All reflection arises out of praxis, out of committed action on behalf of some cause.

 

                                    b.         The neutral observer is already committed to maintain the status quo even if he or she does not admit it." p. 55.

 

            B.        Notion of Theology as "Liberating"

 

                        1.         "Theology that reflects upon commitment must be a liberating theology because it moves from reflection on the world to taking part in the transformation of the world." [Spohn, p. 56.]

 

                        2.         Gutiérrez writes: "In this participation [in the process of liberation] will be heard nuances of the Word of God which are imperceptible in other existential situations and

 

                        3.         without which there can be no authentic and fruitful faithfulness to the Lord." [Theology of Liberation, p. 49 {Spohn, p. 56}]

 

                        4.         In other words, this is the hermeneutical reality. Recall Fullenbach's expression that Scripture will "sound different" when read in a context of systemic oppression.

 

            C.        Faith as "Performative" --- Orthopraxis over orthodoxy

 

                        1.         Spohn's use of Avery Dulles' notion of 3 types of faith, in the latter's article, "The Meaning of Faith Considered in Relationship to Justice" in The Faith That Does Justice ,(New York: Paulist, 1977).

 

                        2.         Faith conceived as assent to authoritatively revealed truths: goal is illumination. [e.g. Aquinas and Augustine]

 

                        3.         Faith conceived as surrender in confidence to God's gracious gift in Christ: goal is radical personal trust in God. [e.g., Luther, Bonhoeffer, etc.]

 

                        4.         Faith conceived as "performative": "Moral commitment is added to intellectual conviction and personal trust because the acting out of truth is necessary for belief in it." p. 56.

 

                        5.         This distinction on different ways of understanding faith will help also in assessing the critiques of many of liberation theology, i.e., they are working primarily out of a propositional understanding of faith.

 

            D.        Notion of Conversion in Liberation Theology:

 

                        1.         "Gutiérrez also accepts the position that the values of individuals are formed by the economic structures they are confined to.

 

                        2.         Accordingly, Christian conversion involves both a repudiation of the exploiting structures of society and a willingness to transform them into more humane systems so that people living under them can become more human." [Spohn, p. 57].


 

XXIX. CRITICAL AND CORRECTIVE ASPECTS OF THEOLOGICAL METHOD OF LIBERATION AND FEMINIST THEOLOGY

 

            A.        Ideology Criticism

 

                        1.         Premise of ideology:

 

                                    a.         "It is characteristic of ideology that it is invisible to the one whose bias it underwrites.

 

                                    b.         Usually, only those who do not participate in the power system

 

                                                (1)       whose agenda is propagated by the ideology

 

                                                (2)       are aware that what seems to be simply `the way things are'

 

                                                (3)       is actually an oppressive conceptual, cultural, and social system.

 

                                    c.         The `hermeneutical advantage' of the oppressed is precisely this ability to see,

 

                                                (1)       from the margins of social reality,

 

                                                (2)       what is second nature to those who are the beneficiaries of the social system." [Schneiders, p. 183.]

 

                        2.         ideology in the text:

 

                                    a.         "First, the text is not neutral.

 

                                                (1)       The biblical text, like other historical documents, was written by the `historical winners'

 

                                                (2)       who virtually never write the story their story." [Schneiders, p. 182.]

 

                                    b.         thus, ideology in the text impacts negatively on the marginalized, etc., who struggle

 

                                    c.         "with the material in the text that presents them [e.g., women] as inferior, marginal, or expendable." [Schneiders, p. 120]

 

                        3.         ideology of the interpreters of the text:

 

                                    a.         "... the interpreters of the biblical text

 

                                                (1)       never have been,

 

                                                (2)       and are not now, objective,

 

                                                (3)       if by objective one means ideologically unbiased." [Schneiders, p. 183.]

 

                                    b.         "People who are poor and/or politically oppressed tend to be concerned with the ideology of the interpreters of the text

 

                                    c.         who have used the biblical material to legitimate the economic and political status quo from which the dispossessed suffer." [Schneiders, p. 120]

 

                        4.         Canonization of the "historical winners"

 

                                    a.         "What both strands of ideology criticism have in common is their realization that

 

                                    b.         the Bible was produced and has been interpreted almost exclusively by the `historical winners',

 

                                                (1)       who have, deliberately or inadvertently, made history and interpretation serve their interests

 

                                                (2)       at the expense of the `historical losers'." [Schneiders, p. 120]

 

            B.        Hermeneutics of Suspicion

 

            C.        Hermeneutics of Retrieval/Recovery

 

            D.        Development of an Ethic of Gender Respect

 

            E.        Key Scriptural Themes

 

                        1.         Creation Intention

 

                        2.         Christian Community: Early Church Vision

 

                        3.         Recommend the work of Phyllis Trible

 

                                    a.         God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978.

 

                                    b.         Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.


 

XXX.  OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE MODELS

 

            A.        1984 and 1986 CDF Instructions on Liberation Theology

 

            B.        Positive Aspects and Contributions

 

                        1.         First and foremost, according to me, Liberation Theology is a valid attempt at an inculturated theology.

 

                                    a.         Thus, answers the charge of Jesus himself to go and make disciples of all nations.

 

                                    b.         A charge repeated more recently in Paul VI's 1975 Evangelii nuntiandi

 

                        2.         Central premise of all liberation theologians: "No neutral reading of Scripture can discern the call to liberation; such a call presupposes a commitment to the poor and oppressed and a willingness to act on their behalf." [Spohn, p. 55].

 

                        3.         "All reflection arises out of praxis, out of committed action on behalf of some cause. The neutral observer is already committed to maintain the status quo even if he or she does not admit it." p. 55.

 

                        4.         According to Gutiérrez, the Church "performs a disservice when it uses the rhetoric of Church unity to masks the antithetical interests of the rich and exploited." p. 64.

 

                        5.         3 observations of Richard McCormick, reported by Thomas Schubeck, concerning how liberation theology has influenced moral theology:

 

                                    a.         "It first demolished the separatist mentality that dichotomizes reality into the profane and the sacred and replaced it with a perspective that sees Christ's action // permeating every dimension of human existence.

 

                                    b.         "Second, it expanded the Church's mission of charity to include active participation in constructing a just order. Liberation theologians call this active form of charity `praxis'.

 

                                    c.         "Third, liberation theology reminded Christians and continues to remind them at every turn, that morality should give primacy to social concerns and not yield to the individualism rampant in Western industrialized democracies." Thomas L. Schubeck, S.J. "Ethics and Liberation Theology." Theological Studies 56 (1995): 107-108.

 

            C.        Negative Aspects and Questions

 

                        1.         Problematic of the so-called "hermeneutical circle":

 

                                    a.         "`discovering' in Scripture interests that were established prior to interpreting the Word of God.

 

                                    b.         Every use of Scripture begins from some interest, but does that use allow Scripture to challenge that original position?" p. 54.

 

                        2.         Gutiérrez' thesis insisting that only someone participating in the struggle for justice can hear God's word.

 

                                    a.         Some problems with nature of grace and revelation here; a new form of Semi-Pelagianism?

 

                                    b.         I'd basically agree with most of Gutiérrez, but once again make the observation that such a conversion may often be very gradual, and the "if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem" attitude unnecessarily polarizes the Christian community in a counter-productive way.

 

                        3.         On notion of radical [economic] conversion:

 

                                    a.         Seems to employ a Power model which may ultimately prove problematic, plus

 

                                    b.         my continuing question on the nature of conversion: must it only be instantaneous and radical, a "paradigm earthquake" instead of a series of smaller "shifts"?

 

                        4.         Spohn's central critique of liberation theologians is that they lack a developed ethics. "Revolutionary zeal and compassion do not ensure justice in the world that follows the revolution,..." p. 65.

 

                        5.         Blunting of the "realism" of the Scriptural vision of the human condition: "Scripture teaches that sin will never be fully eradicated from history until its end point, and that persistent sinful tendencies of individuals can sabotage the most carefully managed social systems." p. 65.

 

                        6.         Gutiérrez' use of the poor as a sort of "moral proletariat" -- reflecting Marx's use of the poor in his economic view.

 

                                    a.         "They are the class that holds the seeds of the future; they have the latent energy to transform existing structures because they experience the contradictions of such structures most fully." p. 65.

 

                                    b.         Spohn's critique, via use of Scripture:

 

                                                (1)       "It is undeniable that the Bible mandates a special concern for the poor as proof of fidelity to the covenant with the Lord;

 

                                                (2)       it does not seem to confer on them a privileged position of greater wisdom as if they hold the key to social progress." p. 65.

 

                                    c.         Danger of romanticizing the poor since they are marginalized and uncontaminated by abuse of power usage. However, they are sinners too.

 

            D.        Challenges and Further Work for the Future:

 

                        1.         Developing/clarifying the points mentioned above.

 

                        2.         Ongoing issues of epistemological privilege of the poor

 

                        3.         Impact of the preferential option for the poor on traditional understanding of ethics

 

                                    a.         "On the ethical front, critics charge that liberation ethics, by using preferential option as its foundational principle, seems to turn traditional ethics on its head.

 

                                    b.         "Traditional philosophical ethics and moral theology insist that moral thinking be impartial;

 

                                    c.         they reject partiality, therefore, because by definition it gives unfair advantage to one group." Schubeck, "Ethics and Liberation Theology," p. 109.

 

                        4.         Yet, we must continue to wrestle with this issue: Should ethics be partisan?

 

                                    a.         "Yes, says Philippine theologian Patricia McAuliffe, because our historical nature `leads us to recognize that we are limited in terms of our capacity to give and to relate to all others'.

 

                                    b.         "Following Juan Luis Segundo's notion of efficacious love, she says we must choose between needs of groups, and should make that choice on the basis of the greatest need.

 

                                    c.         "Like Latin American theologians, McAuliffe argues that the universal good is achieved through the particular good.

 

                                    d.         "Preferential commitment intends justice for all and not a reversal of situations (i.e. reverse discrimination)." Schubeck, "Ethics and Liberation Theology," p. 114.


 

XXXI. FURTHER BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

            A.        Hennelly, Alfred T., ed. Liberation Theology: A Documentary History. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1990.

 

                        1.         Contains 59 important documents which help trace the background, origins, development, and controversy surrounding liberation theology.

 

            B.        Schubeck, Thomas L., S.J.

 

                        1.         "Ethics and Liberation Theology." Theological Studies 56 (1995): 107-122.

 

                                    a.         Part of the annual "Notes on Moral Theology."

 

                                    b.         Overview of some of the contributions liberation theology has made to Christian ethics, as well as noting some ongoing concerns and tensions.

 

                                    c.         Liberation Ethics: Sources, Models, and Norms. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

 

            C.        Enrique Dussel

 

                        1.         Ethics and Community. Translated from the Spanish by Robert R. Barr. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1988.

 

                        2.         Ethics and the Theology of Liberation. Translated by Bernard F. McWilliams. Maryknoll: Orbis Press, 1978.

 

                                    a.         Originally delivered as lectures ar a course organized by the Justice and Peace Study Center, Buenos Aires, in 1972.

 

                        3.         "An Ethic of Liberation: Fundamental Hypotheses." Concilium 172 (1984): 54-63.

 

                                    a.         One of a series of articles in this issue devoted to the ethics of liberation.

 

            D.        Antonio Môser and Bernandino Leers

 

                        1.         Moral Theology: Dead Ends and Ways Forward. Translated by Paul Burns. Wellwood: Burns & Oates; and Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1990.

 

                        2.         Written in Brazil, this work deals with moral theology and theology of liberation.

 

            E.        Gottwald, Norman K., ed. The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983.

 

                        1.         Divided into five sections: 1) Social Scientific Method in Biblical Studies; 2) Social Class as a Hermeneutical Factor; 3) Sociological Readings of the Old Testament; 4) Sociological Readings of the New Testament; and 5) The Bible in Political Theology and Marxist Thought.

 

                        2.         Controversial

 

            F.        Lohfink, Norbert. Option for the Poor: The Basic Principle of Liberation Theology in Light of the Bible. Berkeley: BIBAL Press, 1987.

 

            G.        Meier, John P. "The Bible as a Source for Theology." Proceedings of the Forty-Third Annual Convention. Catholic Theological Society of America. 43 (1988): 1-14.

 

                        1.         Critiques two key liberation theologians' (Jon Sobrino and Juan Luis Segundo) use of Scripture in their theology in terms of their exegesis and interpretation.

 

                        2.         Meier is an exegete.

 

            H.        Miranda, José Porfirio.

 

                        1.         Communism in the Bible. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1982.

 

                        2.         Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression. Translated by John Eagleson. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1974.

 

            I.         Rowland, Christopher and Corner, Mark. Liberating Exegesis: The Challenge of Liberation Theology to Biblical Studies. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989.

 

            J.         Christine E. Gudorf's "Liberation Theology's Use of Scripture," Interpretation 41 (1987): 5-18.

 

                        1.         Discusses the impact of differences in the social context between North and South America upon the reading of Scripture in reference to the use of Scripture in Liberation Theology.

 

                        2.         Gudorf has established herself as a leading North-American voice in liberation theology.


 

XXXII.           INTRODUCTION TO NIEBUHR'S THEOLOGY RESPONSE TO REVELATION

 

            A.        Recall a brief biography of H. Richard Niebuhr

 

                        1.         1894-1962

 

                        2.         Son of German immigrants, (father was a Evangelical minister), younger brother of Reinhold.

 

                        3.         PhD in religion from Yale in 1924, taught at Yale from 1931 until his death. Somewhat more academic background than his older brother Reinhold.

 

                        4.         Influenced by Karl Barth, Søren Kierkegaard and Ernst Troeltsch.

 

            B.        Influence of Niebuhr's approach

 

                        1.         Professor of James Gustafson

 

                        2.         Effect on Stanley Hauerwas

 

                        3.         William Spohn and others


 

XXXIII.          BACKGROUND OF H. RICHARD NIEBUHR'S ETHICS OF RESPONSIBILITY: FOUR FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS

 

            A.        All of our moral actions can be seen as responses to what is going on in the world. "Response" means that these actions are done in the light of "meaningful events."

 

            B.        Interpretation done in the light of meaningful events. Our actions are responses to realities that are already full of meaning because of the interpretations that our seeing brings.

 

            C.        Accountability to both past AND anticipated future. Refers to the way in which the actions of a responsible person not only respond to the past but also fit into an anticipated future. Here, moral "responsibility" means staying with your action.

 

            D.        Responsible stories are those which foster social solidarity. The responsible self is responsible for living in, learning from, and helping to shape community.

 

            E.        Key work for Niebuhr's ethics of responsibility is his The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy. With an Introduction by James M. Gustafson. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.

 

                        1.         Published posthumously, and based principally on the 1960 Robertson Lectures delivered at the University of Glasgow, with selected passages from the Earl Lectures delivered at the Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, CA) and a series of addresses given at the Riverside Church in New York City.

 

                        2.         The book contains a preface by the author's son, R. Richard Niebuhr,

 

                        3.         plus a long introduction by James M. Gustafson, one of Niebuhr's most well-known former students.


 

XXXIV.          INTERPRETING EVENTS: "WHAT IS GOD DOING IN MY/OUR SITUATION?"

 

            A.        Need to interpret our experience

 

            B.        Consider the following from T.S. Eliot's "The Four Quartets."

 

                        1.         "Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

                                    Cannot bear very much reality.

                                    Time past and time future

                                    What might have been and what has been

                                    Point to one end, which is always present."

 

                        2.         From Burnt Norton [lines 42ff]

 

            C.        Niebuhr's 3 "War Articles" in Christian Century: "What is God doing in the War?"

 

                        1.         Which side of the War (WWII) is God on? Wrong question, according to Niebuhr.

 

                        2.         Titles of the Three Articles:

 

                                    a.         "War as the Judgment of God"

 

                                    b.         "Is God in the War?" (Response by Virgil Aldrich)

 

                                    c.         "War as Crucifixion"

 

            D.        The Standpoint of Christian Faith

 

                        1.         Hermeneutical Principal: "Events are always understood from one standpoint or another." p. 73.

 

                        2.         Like the Bible, they are not self-interpreting--this is a simple point, but nevertheless crucial.

 

                                    a.         E.g., the Persian Gulf Crisis is an "event"--but its interpretation depends largely on which standpoint we have, what Spohn calls a "framework of meaning."

 

                                    b.         Different frameworks of meaning will render different interpretations.

 

                                    c.         We can see this in almost any event, e.g. current situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

 

                        3.         Our Question then is "What "standpoint" does Scripture have?"

 

                                    a.         The Cross

 

                                    b.         The Resurrection

 

                                    c.         Here the New Testament "standpoint" is crucial for us, as Christians; we cannot use only the Old Testament.

 

                        4.         Significance of our Christian Standpoint:

 

                                    a.         to understand, to "decode" our events.

 

                                    b.         The preceding is very important for a proper understanding also of the work of such people as Stanley Hauerwas, and I'd add, Philip Keane {cf. his Christian Ethics and Imagination}.

 

            E.        Discerning God's Action in the Event(s)

 

                        1.         3 simultaneous actions (aspects):

 

                                    a.         "God governs in part through the limitations of our own finitude,

 

                                    b.         judges by calling us to repentance, and

 

                                    c.         redeems by bringing to light new possibilities of reconciliation that were hidden to our despairing hearts.

 

                                    d.         Parenthetically, we can see a certain Protestant Reformed "nuance" here in this theological depiction.

 

                        2.         God does all of these three actions (governs, judges, redeems) simultaneously.

 

                        3.         Therefore, God's judgment should not be dismissed as being penal and vindictive,

 

                        4.         as though we could abstract God's judgment from God's gracious mode of governance and redemption.

 

                        5.         Imperative of having a proper theology, i.e., a sound understanding of who God is

 

                        6.         Significance not only for using Scripture in Christian ethics, but also for our theodicy.

 

                        7.         To elaborate such a theology, consier the story of Etty Hillesum,a young Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam during WWII, and died in Auschwitz

 

                                    a.         as quoted in Paul Wadell, C.P. The Primacy of Love: An Introduction to the Ethics of Thomas Aquinas, (New York: Paulist Press, 1992): 66-67.

 

                                    b.         Etty realizes in the last few months of her life that there is nothing God can do to save her from the Nazis.

 

                                    c.         But rather than leading her to despair, she vows to come to God's assistance, even if God cannot come to hers.

 

                                    d.         She resolves, in the face of God's helplessness, to look after God's interests in the world.

 

                                    e.         One day she writes in her diary:

 

                                                (1)       But one thing is becoming increasingly clear to me: that You cannot help us, that we must help You to help ourselves.

 

                                                (2)       And that is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters:

 

                                                (3)       that we safeguard that little piece of You, God, in ourselves.

 

                                                (4)       And perhaps in others as well.

 

                                                (5)       Alas, there doesn't seem to be much You Yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives.

 

                                                (6)       Neither do I hold You responsible.

 

                                                (7)       You cannot help us be we must help You and defend Your dwelling place inside us to the last. [p. 67]

 

                                                (8)       [From Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life (New York: Washington Square Press, 1981): 186-187.]

 

                        8.         Wadell uses this anecdote to illustrate the notion of benevolence in friendship for God:

 

                                    a.         "Just as God so often intercedes in our lives, helping us, blessing us, befriending us, so, too, can we sometimes intercede for God by watching after God's interests in the world." p. 67.

 

                                    b.         "We have benevolence toward God when, like Etty, we try to make God's will our own." p. 68.

 

                                    c.         I would hold that this is related to H. Richard Niebuhr’s notion of the responsible self.

 

                        9.         And in Niebuhr's terminology, I think this might be a good example of Christian responsibility, and a fitting response to God's revelation.

 

                        10.       Sometimes, in fact, it seems that God isn't enabling us to do much else in this or that situation!


 

XXXV.           JESUS CHRIST AS THE CHRISTIANS' KEY SYMBOL

 

            A.        The Perspective of the Cross: From H.R. Niebuhr’s “War Articles”

 

                        1.         "Only the context of the central symbol of the New Testament, the cross of Christ, can render intelligible the suffering of the innocent millions caught in the path of the war machines.

 

                        2.         ...Neither a theory of vindictive justice nor the purity of non-involvement can grasp the meaning of the cross or the war.

 

                        3.         The cross points to an order of grace that comes through the vicarious suffering of the innocent to those who are guilty, not to a world order where good is always rewarded and evil punished.

 

                        4.         The suffering of the guiltless becomes a call to religious conversion, an act of grace in the paradox of tragedy." p. 75.

 

                        5.         This is an important contribution to our understanding of ethics and theodicy, but we should note that it does have a certain potentiality for abuse–e.g., in a misunderstood call to “passive” acceptance of suffering.

 

            B.        A Non-Christian vs. Christian Perspective:

 

                        1.         "When viewed in the context of retributive justice, the appropriate response to war would be righteous anger toward the guilty.

 

                        2.         From the perspective of the cross, however, the fitting response is a repentance that acknowledges our own complicity in permitting injustice and turns to the renewing call of God." p. 76.

 

            C.        Ultimate significance of God's Revelation in Jesus Christ for Niebuhr: his notion of radical monotheism.

 

                        1.         A "radical monotheism" to avoid a "polytheistic dualism"

 

                        2.         As Niebuhr states: "To deny that God is in the war, is for the monotheist equivalent to the denial of God's universality and unity--to the denial that God is God. ...

 

                        3.         To look for God's judgment is to affirm as radical monotheists that there is no person, no situation, no event in which the opportunity to serve God is not present." [Niebuhr, "Is God in the War?" p. 954 {Spohn, p. 77}]

 

            D.        Parenthetically, this is a good point to keep in mind in our pastoral application of moral theology,

 

                        1.         e.g. in counseling or confession--to invite the Lord into those dark areas of sin which we would like to tidy up first.

 

                        2.         The Lord is already there, but our "inviting Him in" helps us recognize this fact, and then lets His healing power reign in our hearts.

 

            E.        Ignatian notion of Finding God in All Things.


 

XXXVI.          NOTION OF THE (RESPONSIBLE) SELF & MORAL BECOMING

 

            A.        Logical priority of the question, "Who am I?":

 

                        1.         is ethically prior to "What ought I to do?"

 

                        2.         Because our/my "Self-understanding" will define, or at least describe, the perspective of the moral agent.

 

            B.        Need for antecedent religious conversion to become a Responsible self:

 

                        1.         "On its own, the self is unable to see experience in any other way [than self-centered].

 

                        2.         When my race or class or profession becomes the center of value, it is merely egotism expanded.

 

                        3.         Only the gracious revelation that the whole of reality is trustworthy can unself the agent and evoke a universal loyalty to offset the innate parochialism of the human spirit.

 

                        4.         The root sin of humanity is this self-love, which expresses itself in defensiveness of personal interests and exclusion of others.

 

                        5.         The necessary condition for moral conversion, therefore, must be religious conversion to redefine the self." [Spohn, p. 78.]

 

            C.        A Quotable Quote from Niebuhr:

 

"As a rule men are polytheists, referring now to this and now to that valued being as the source of life's meaning. Sometimes they live for Jesus' God, sometimes for the country and sometimes for Yale." Meaning of Revelation, p. 57.


 

XXXVII.        SYMBOLS FOR THE "REASONING HEART"

 

            A.        Context of this expression in American Protestantism

 

                        1.         Great Awakening and Jonathan Edwards: 17th c.

 

                        2.         Methodism, and Revivalism to an extent

 

            B.        Niebuhr's Understanding of how the heart "reasons":

 

                        1.         "The heart reasons with the aid of revelation because the heart uses the images provided by the community of faith to discover an intelligible pattern in its own experience." [Niebuhr, Meaning of Revelation, p. 79 {Spohn, p. 79.}]

 

                        2.         "Revelation does not accomplish the work of conversion; the reasoning heart must search out memory and bring to light forgotten deeds. But without the revelatory image this work does not seem possible." [Niebuhr, MR, 88-89; {Spohn, p. 79}]

 

                        3.         Thus, an important correction to Enlightenment rationalism.


 

XXXVIII.       STORY AND SELF-UNDERSTANDING

 

            A.        A mnemonic moral aid; cf. Fuchs

 

            B.        Theological Notion and Importance of the Story:

 

                        1.         Gain a sense of self:

 

"To gain this sense of self, the imagination needs an image that can fit a history, a personal character that emerges through time.

 

                        2.         [Story as Personal Imaginative Device]

 

                                    a.         It needs the particular imaginative device of the story.

 

                                    b.         Only stories can convey the dramatic unity appropriate to a unique lifetime: the intelligible //pattern of character emerges through the twists and turns of the plot." [Spohn, pp. 79-80.]

 

            C.        Alasdair MacIntyre's notion of the Narrative

 

                        1.         Indispensable

 

                        2.         Dramatic

 

                        3.         Moral self seen in terms of this narrative unity

 

                                    a.         "In what does the unity of an individual life consist?

 

                                    b.         The answer is that its unity is the unity of a narrative embodied in a single life." (MacIntyre, After Virtue, p. 218).

 

                        4.         Elaboration of MacIntyre's theory from his After Virtue

 

                                    a.         "To be the subject of a narrative that runs from one's birth to one's death is, I remarked earlier, to be accountable for the actions and experiences which compose a narratable life.

 

                                    b.         It is, that is, to be open to being asked to give a certain kind of account of what one did or what happened to one or what one witnessed at any earlier point in one's life than the time // at which the question is posed." pp. 217-218.

 

                                    c.         "The other aspect of narrative selfhood is correlative: I am not only accountable, I am one who can always ask others for an account, who can put others to the question.

 

                                    d.         I am part of their story, as they are part of mine.

 

                                    e.         The narrative of any one life is part of an interlocking set of narratives.

 

                                    f.         Moreover this asking for and giving of accounts itself plays an important part in constituting narratives." p. 218.

 

                                    g.         "It does follow of course that all attempts to elucidate the notion of personal identity independently of and in isolation from the notions of narrative, intelligibility and accountability are bound to fail." (AV, p. 218.)

 

                        5.         This notion of narrative will be taken up and expanded in Hauerwas’s model of story and Christian discipleship.


 

XXXIX.          CONVERSION THROUGH REVELATION

 

            A.        Implication of Conversion in one's own story:

 

                        1.         "Conversion implies moving into a different story, making the common memory and tradition of the Christian community our own.

 

                        2.         This story now becomes our story, but we are no longer the center of the narrative." [Spohn, p. 80.]

 

            B.        Conversion and the community's corporate story:

 

                        1.         Again, the liturgical life of the community, in which we re-create the Christian story in our time, could be an important aid here.

 

                        2.         Consider too, the Jewish notion of the Haggadah, i.e. the “telling of the story”

 

                                    a.          to enculturate individuals into the community,

 

                                    b.         as well as a summons of all in the community to “remember”

 

            C.        How this Conversion works with and through Scripture:

 

                        1.         "Conversion takes root as the self reinterprets its own past and future in light of this self-disclosure of God and responds appropriately. Scripture provides paradigms for this response." p. 80.

 

                        2.         According to Niebuhr: "The revelation of God is not a possession but an event which happens over and over again when we remember the illuminating center of our history." [Niebuhr, MR, p. 129 {Spohn, p. 81}].

 

                        3.         Relation to the notion of the deposit of faith.

 

                        4.         "By recalling that event, we discover God in the present, and progress toward a new self-understanding." p. 81.

 

                        5.         Example of the Prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures:

 

                                    a.         who "convict Israel more by challenging national self-understanding with powerful imagery." [Spohn, p. 81].

 

                                    b.         E.g. Hosea who uses the image of adultery to accuse Israel.


 

XL.     NIEBUHR'S UNDERSTANDING OF CHRISTIAN REVELATION

 

            A.        The "Point of View" 

 

            B.        Philosophical Hermeneutical Premise: No "Neutral" Vantage Point is humanly possible.

 

            C.        "The historical point of view of the observer must be taken into consideration in every case since no observer can get out of history into a realm beyond time-space; if reason is to operate at all it must be content to work as an historical reason." MR, p. 12.

 

            D.        However, avoid solipsism:

 

                        1.         Our individual point of view is conditioned and informed by the past experience of the community, as well as subjecting my/our story to "evaluation" by others.

 

                        2.         This point will be important for fleshing out the notion of the community's "story" for ethics.

 

                        3.         "To be in history is to be in society, though in a particular society.

 

                        4.         Every view of the universal from the finite standpoint of the individual in such a society is subject to the test of experience

 

                        5.         on the part of companions who look from the same standpoint in the same direction

 

                        6.         as well as to the test of consistency with the principles and concepts that have grown out of past experience in the same community." MR, p. 15.

 

            E.        The "Story" of Our Life

 

                        1.         Faith in Our History

 

                                    a.         Revelation is not identical with history

 

                                                (1)       Faith critiques what we "see" in our history

 

                                                (2)       Avoid error of creating a "sacred history" outside of "secular history"

 

                                    b.         "The error frequently made in the Christian community which has been the occasion for the rise of many difficulties in understanding and propagating the historical faith has been the location of revelation in external history or in history as known form the non-participating view.

 

                                    c.         So revelation has been identified with some miracle, whether this was the single act of a person or his whole life or the life of a community, such as Israel or the church.

 

                                    d.         In this way certain events in external history were set apart as sacred, or a sacred history //of one community has been opposed to the secular histories of other societies."MR, pp. 54-55.

 

                        2.         External vs. Internal History

 

                                    a.         Elaboration of Niebuhr's point of Faith critiquing our history.

 

                                    b.         External history: "... the data of external history are all impersonal; they are ideas, interests, movements among things.

 

                                    c.         Even when such history deals with human individuals it seeks to reduce them to impersonal parts.

 

                                    d.         Jesus becomes, from this point of view, a complex of ideas about ethics and eschatology, of psychological and biological elements." MR, p. 47.

 

                                    e.         Internal history: "Internal history, on the other hand, is not a story of things in juxtaposition or succession; it is personal in character.

 

                                    f.         Here the final data are not elusive atoms of matter or thought but equally elusive selves." MR, p. 47.

 

                        3.         Notion of "Spectator's" vs. "Participant's" Point of View:

 

                        4.         "If we begin with the spectator's knowledge of events we cannot proceed to the participant's apprehension.

 

                        5.         There is no continuous movement from an objective inquiry into the life of Jesus to a knowledge of him as the Christ who is our Lord.

 

                        6.         Only a decision of the self, a leap of faith, a metanoia or revolution of the mind can lead from observation to participation and from observed to lived history.

 

                        7.         And this is true of all other events in sacred history." MR, p. 61.

 

            F.        The "Event-for-God"

 

                        1.         The "Ultimate" nature of the Event: (tied in once again with HRN’s understanding of “radical monotheism”

 

                                    a.         "The ultimate nature of an event is not what it is in its isolation only but

 

                                    b.         what it is in its connection with all other events,

 

                                    c.         not what it is for itself but also what it is from an inclusive point of view.

 

                                    d.         The event, as it really is, is the event as it is for God who knows it at the same time and in one act from within as well as from without, in its isolation as well as in its community with all other events.

 

                                    e.         Such knowledge of the nature of events is beyond the possibility of the finite point of view." MR, p. 61.

 

                                    f.         Fundamental to the notion of "Response" to Revelation.

 

                                    g.         Humanly impossible to see as God sees:

 

                                                (1)       "Though we cannot speak of the way in which the two aspects of historical events are ultimately related in the event-for-God

 

                                                (2)       we can describe their functional relationship for us.

 

                                                (3)       Such a description must once more be given confessionally, not as a statement of what all men ought to do

 

                                                (4)       but as a statement of what we have found it necessary to do in the Christian community on the basis of the faith which is our starting point." p. 62.

 

                                    h.         So this is precisely where the community's "faith-full" meditation on Revelation, and ongoing discernment, become crucial.

 

                                    i.         Parenthetical observation: Though Niebuhr is using different language his thought here bears a certain resonance to Rahner, e.g. his Hearers of the Word.

 

                                    j.         Also related to the notion of “reading the signs of the times” and “discernment of spirits”

 

            G.        Reasons of the Heart

 

                        1.         Interplay between Imagination and Reason

 

                                    a.         "Revelation means for us that part of our inner history which illuminates the rest of it and which is itself intelligible."MR, p. 68.

 

                                    b.         As Christians we appeal to the Revelation of God in Jesus Christ:

 

                                    c.         "Revelation means this intelligible [Christ] even which makes all other events intelligible." MR, p. 69.

 

                                    d.         Don't separate Imagination from Reason:

 

                                    e.         "We make a false distinction when we so separate reason and imagination as to make the former the arbiter in our knowledge of the external world while we regard the inner life as the sphere of the latter." MR, p. 70.

 

                        2.         Moral and Immoral Uses of our Imagination:

 

                                    a.         Proper "moral" use of our imagination, a concept which is increasingly seen as foundational to human morality::

 

                                    b.         "The question which is relevant for the life of the self among selves is not whether personal images should be employed but only what personal images are right and adequate and which are evil imaginations of the heart." MR, p. 72.

 

                                    c.         Immoral use: "Evil" imagination:

 

                                    d.         "Evil imaginations in this realm are shown to be evil by their consequences to selves and communities just as erroneous concepts and hypotheses in external knowledge are shown to be fallacious by their results." MR, p. 73.

 

                                    e.         Hauerwas uses this concept in his own notion of “false stories”

 

                        3.         Niebuhr's "Reasoning Heart" metaphor:

 

                                    a.         "The heart must reason; the participating self cannot escape the necessity of looking for pattern and meaning in its life and relations.

 

                                    b.         It cannot make a choice between reason and imagination but only between reasoning on the basis of adequate images and thinking with the aid of evil imaginations." MR, p. 79.

 

                        4.         Interpretation through Progressive Revelation

 

                                    a.         Theological Prenote (Reminder): As "Revelation" then my "understanding" stands under the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

                                    b.         "Through the cross of Christ we gain a new understanding of the present scene;

 

                                    c.         we note relations previously ignored;

 

                                    d.         find explanations of our actions hitherto undreamed of.

 

                                    e.         Deeds and sufferings begin to compose themselves into a total picture of significant action in which the self no longer occupies the center." MR, p. 90.

 

                                    f.         The Revelatory moment(s) which makes my reality "intelligible"

 

                                                (1)       "First of all, the revelatory moment is one which makes our past intelligible.

 

                                                (2)       Through it we understand what we remember,

 

                                                (3)       remember what we have forgotten and

 

                                                (4)       appropriate as our own past much that seemed alien to us." p. 81.

 

                                                (5)       Recall the role of the Paraclete according to Jesus in John's Gospel:

 

                                                            (a)       John 14:16-17

 

                                                            (b)       John 14:26

 

                                                            (c)       John 16: 7-15

 

                                    g.         The insight of this "moment" usually comes in form of some "image"

 

                                    h.         which illumines the past:

 

                                    i.         calling us to both

 

                                                (1)       confession (in both senses of the word):

 

                                                            (a)       Confession of Faith in Jesus Christ

 

                                                            (b)       Confession of the past, a past I often would like to (and could) forget, if left to myself.

 

                                                            (c)       "By reasoning on the basis of revelation the heart not only understands what it remembers but is enabled and driven to remember what it had forgotten.

 

                                                            (d)       When we use insufficient and evil images of the personal or social self we drop out of our consciousness or suppress those memories which do not fit in with the picture of the self we cherish." MR, p. 83.

 

                                                (2)       and community (I do not stand alone)

 

                                                            (a)       Integration into the community means acceptance, at least up to a point, of the community's story.

 

                                                            (b)       Niebuhr uses the example of "Americanization" and the story of the Pilgrims.

 

                                                            (c)       "When men enter into a new community they not only share the present life of their new companions but also adopt as their own the past history of their fellows." MR, p. 84.

 

                                                (3)       the community also is called to corporate examination of its past, and confession of its sins.

 

                                    j.         Progressive nature of Revelation also calls us to reason with our hearts about the present, what God is doing in our world now

 

                                    k.         and to reason about the future as well: the potentiality for my and the my community's actions, attitudes, "imaginations," etc.

 

            H.        A God Who Reveals God's Self

 

                        1.         An Event, not a "Possession"

 

                                    a.         "The revelation of God is not a possession but an event, which happens over and over again when we remember the illuminating center of our history.

 

                                    b.         What we can posses is the memory of Jesus Christ, but what happens to us through that memory we cannot possess." MR, p. 129.

 

                                    c.         Be careful of misinterpreting the import of the traditional term "deposit of faith"

 

                                                (1)       not some static "treasure chest"

 

                                                (2)       Much less a “bank” deposit of “faith” into our eternal IRA!

 

                                                (3)       Remember the parable of the talents

 

                                                (4)       Recall too Dei verbum on progressive appropriation of revelation

 

                        2.         Revelation as call to continuing conversion

 

                                    a.         "Continuing" rather than "continuous":

 

                                                (1)       Realistic view of human life, like a plot

 

                                                (2)       Therefore, there will be key developments; the plot will thicken.

 

                                    b.         Niebuhr's summary:

 

                                    c.         "Revelation is not a development of our religious ideas but their continuous conversion.

 

                                    d.         God's self-disclosure is that permanent revolution in our religious life by which all religious truths are painfully transformed and all religious behavior transfigured by repentance and new faith." MR, p. 133.


 

XLI.    USE OF SCRIPTURE IN RESPONDING TO REVELATION (Skip and Remove if no time)

 

            A.        Hermeneutical problem: which images, themes, etc. are the appropriate ones to guide our moral theology?

 

            B.        This problem and its resolution will become crucial when we consider the practical "prova" of the 5 Step methodology.

 

            C.        General guidelines for the selection and appropriation of biblical images to ethics:

 

                        1.         The appropriate biblical images should be central to the canon of Scripture.

 

                        2.         The guiding images should convey or be coordinate with a theologically sound image of God. E.g. Exodus image of God as Redeemer and Deliverer of captives.

 

                        3.         The images should be consistent with God's definitive revelation in Jesus Christ. E.g. "Crusading Warrior" image of the Holy War would seem inconsistent with the New Testament character of Jesus.

 

                        4.         The images should be appropriate to the situation and shed light upon it.

 

                        5.         Finally, these images should indicate courses of action that concur with the standards of ordinary human morality.

 

                        6.         I.e, Christians are not called by God to behavior that is patently harmful to themselves or others.

 

                        7.         This criterion introduces the practice of a public test to check any suspension of the moral law in the name of personal inspiration.

 

            D.        Final "Methodological Moral Reminder"

 

                        1.         Any coherent moral argument should draw on the four sources of Christian ethics in an integrated manner.

 

                        2.         Thus, our "selection of biblical material must be justified by the other sources we use: theological validity in the tradition, consistency with the normative portrait of the human person found in ethics, and relevance to the factual situation as determined by the best empirical analyses available." p. 84.

 

                        3.         Niebuhr warns against "evil imaginations of the heart": i.e., "symbols that send us down false ways and evoke self-centered affections.

 

                        4.         They obscure the truth of who we are and what we are doing, thus leading to a future not of life, but of death.

 

                        5.         Evil imaginations of the heart are detected by the consequences they lead to, just as concepts are invalidated by their erroneous results." p. 84.

 

                        6.         [In this context cf. Ignatius' Rules for Discernment in the Second Week]

 

                        7.         Spohn offers here the example of

 

                                    a.         apartheid,

 

                                    b.         nationalism, and

 

                                    c.         commercialism [e.g. when you pray for your Motor Home, be sure to tell God what color you want].

 

                        8.         Recall the point of Fowl & Jones on relation between the character of the moral community and a valid interpretation of Scripture.


 

XLII.   CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

 

            A.        Preliminary Consideration of the Human Person as Moral Agent

 

                        1.         How one views the human person will have great impact on how one conceives morality.

 

                        2.         Essentialist--a human nature

 

                                    a.         Scholastic tradition

 

                                    b.         person respects the ends of this nature

 

                                    c.         Problems, as we shall see with physicalism,

 

                                    d.         and the use of a philosophical language which is no longer really current.

 

                        3.         Universalist moral agent

 

                                    a.         Kantian

 

                                    b.         Person as ends, never means

 

                                    c.         Act so that moral actions can be universalizable (i.e., categorical imperative)

 

                                    d.         Strong emphasis in the Enlightenment,

 

                                    e.         heavy stress on individualism

 

                                    f.         and individual human rights.

 

                                    g.         However, it would be good to note Alasdair MacIntyre's critique of this view:

 

                                                (1)       "To be a moral agent is, on this view, precisely to be able to stand back from any and every situation in which // one is involved,

 

                                                (2)       from any and every characteristic that one may possess,

 

                                                (3)       and to pass judgment on it from a purely universal and abstract point of view

 

                                                (4)       that is totally detached from all social particularity." [MacIntyre, After Virtue, pp. 31-32]

 

                        4.         Moral Agent as Character

 

                                    a.         Importance of roles

 

                                    b.         Narrative

 

                                    c.         Communal focus

 

                                    d.         Greater prominence given to both the positive and negative role of the emotions in moral life and action.

 

                                    e.         Virtues, as they relate to character formation, will have greater prominence in this theory,

 

                                    f.         As well as attention to the social particularity of the moral agent.

 

                                    g.         This view has stronger biblical basis,

 

                                    h.         especially in reference to discipleship,

 

                                    i.         as well as greater correspondence in other ethical systems, such as Confucianism.

 

                                    j.         As well, is more congenial to existentialism.

 

            B.        Background: Discipleship in the Mediterranean World

 

                        1.         Jewish Rabbi and his disciples

 

                        2.         Greek notion of teacher and disciples

 

            C.        Discipleship as a Moral Response

 

                        1.         Premise: "Discipleship is not translatable into a slate of rules or pre-determined moral responses." [Spohn, "What..., "p. 95.]

 

                        2.         "Discipleship begins with the conviction that the most appropriate path is the one already blazed by Jesus and

 

                        3.         that the Christian must creatively embody that way of life in all situations.

 

                        4.         The moral question, `What ought I to do?' is recast in more particular terms: `

 

                        5.         How should I act as a disciple of Jesus in these circumstances?'" p. 89.

 

                        6.         Problem with the model of discipleship for deontological meta-ethics

 

                                    a.         Focuses on the particular and specific, rather than on the general and universal

 

                                    b.         Cuts against "universal" moral discourse as a terminus ad quem

 

                        7.         Different aspects of discipleship highlighted in the approaches by:

 

                                    a.         Hauerwas

 

                                                (1)       focuses on the distinctive story of Jesus.

 

                                                (2)       Involves understanding of narrative theology.

 

                                    b.         McFague

 

                                                (1)       uses parable as the basic revelatory medium.

 

                                                (2)       I will not treat McFague


 

XLIII. SUMMARY COMMENTS ON THE DISCIPLESHIP APPROACH

 

            A.        Common Fundamental Conclusion:

 

                        1.         discipleship must develop and grow,

 

                        2.         as the disciple(s) interiorize their learning.

 

            B.        Scriptural "Call to Discipleship" Accounts

 

                        1.         The Synoptics: Following Jesus

 

                                    a.         Call by Jesus

 

                                                (1)       Into a discipleship group/community

 

                                                (2)       Usually called by twos; always sent in companionship

 

                        2.         John: Choice of the Liberating Truth

 

                                    a.         Jn 6:28-29

 

                                    b.         Jn 8:30-32

 

                                    c.         Witness of the Christian community

 

                                    d.         Distinct from the world

 

                                    e.         Role of the Paraclete

 

                                                (1)       Jn 14:16-17, 26

 

                                                (2)       Jn 16:7-15

 

                        3.         Paul: Living as the New Creation

 

                                    a.         2 Cor 5:16-17

 

                                    b.         Gal 6:15

 

                                    c.         Live individually and corporately in accord with the significance of the New Creation

 

                                    d.         Mystical Body of Christ

 

            C.        Discipleship and the American Social Gospel Movement

 

                        1.         Protestant ecclesiology and social commitment

 

                        2.         Classic example: Charles M. Sheldon's religious novel, In His Steps, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1956).

 

                                    a.         Classic religious novel of the American Protestant Social Gospel movement at the turn of the century.

 

                                    b.         The story concerns a group of Christians who decide to make all the daily practical decisions of their life according to the sole criterion, "What would Jesus do in this case?"

 

                                    c.         This work had immediate and widespread success, and was translated in numerous languages.

 

                                    d.         It remains an excellent means of comprehending the mentality behind the Social Gospel movement.

 

            D.        Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship

 

                        1.         Importance for Post-War Christian ethics

 

                        2.         Bonhoeffer's notion of radical obedience

 

            E.        Dulles' Sixth Model of the Church: "Discipleship Community of Believers"

 

                        1.         Originally given as a talk at the NY Province Congress in 1980.

 

                        2.         Published as Chapter 1, "Imagining the Church for the 1980's," in his A Church to Believe In: Discipleship and the Dynamics of Freedom, New York: Crossroad, 1982).


 

XLIV. DISCIPLESHIP ETHICS IN THE WORK OF JOHN HOWARD YODER

 

            A.        Biography of Yoder

 

                        1.         Mennonite

 

                        2.         Teaches at Notre Dame

 

                        3.         Died 1997.

 

            B.        Key Bibliography

 

                        1.         Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution: A Companion to Bainton. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, 1983.

 

                                    a.         Designed as a companion to Roland Herbert Bainton's Christian attitudes toward war and peace: a historical survey and critical re-evaluation.

 

                        2.         The Christian Witness to the State. Institute of Mennonite Studies Series, 3. Newton KA: Faith and Life Press, 1964.

 

                                    a.         Most of the material in this book was originally prepared as a working paper for a 1955 conference in Puidoux, Switzerland on the theme, "The Lordship of Christ Over Church and State."

 

                        3.         The Fullness of Christ: Paul's Revolutionary Vision of Universal Ministry. Elgin IL: Brethren Press, 1987.

 

                        4.         He Came Preaching Peace. Scottdale PA: Herald Press, 1985.

 

                        5.         The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism. Christian Peace Shelf Series, 3. Scottdale PA: Herald Press, 1971.

 

                        6.         The Pacifism of Karl Barth. Washington, D. C.: Church Peace Mission, 1964.

 

                        7.         The Politics of Jesus. 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972, 1994.

 

                                    a.         Yoder argues for a radical position of the implementation of Jesus' "politics" of non-violence as the true, legitimate Christian response of discipleship.

 

                        8.         The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984.

 

                                    a.         Yoder examines first the theoretical and scriptural foundations of Christian social ethics,

 

                                    b.         then he reviews the historical efforts of the Anabaptists to "return" to the fundamental ethics of the New Testament, before concluding with an analysis of democracy and civil religion in the contemporary world.

 

                        9.         What Would You Do? A Serious Answer to a Standard Question. A Christian Peace Shelf Selection. Scottdale PA: Herald Press, 1983.

 

                                    a.         Yoder addresses the issue of violence and pacifism,

 

                                    b.         using examples from the lives of various people such as Dale Augkerman, Leo Tolstoy, Joan Baez and Tom Skinner.

 

                                    c.         When War Is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. Introduction by Charles P. Lutz. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.

 

            C.        Key aspects of Yoder's stance

 

                        1.         stresses the normative material of the New Testament,

 

                        2.         interpreted through a political reading of the cross of Christ.

 

                        3.         Mennonite tradition: not literal obedience to biblical rules,

 

                        4.         but insistence that Jesus did proclaim a social ethic applicable to our contemporary world.

 

                        5.         As Joel Zimbelman observes, "Yoder is not an apologetic grounded in the logical or scientific proof of the reality of God incarnate.

 

                        6.         "Rather, the reality of Christ's work is witnessed to most profoundly by the presence, posture, and performative action of the community that confesses him.

 

                                    a.         "Jesus' importance and normativeness is that he is the Christ, but this is understood and experienced by the individual only when this affirmation is made as a member of the community called to such witness." p. 369.

 

                                    b.         Joel Zimbelman, "The Contribution of John Howard Yoder to Recent Discussions on Christian Social Ethics," Scottish Journal of Theology 45 (1992): 367-399.

 

            D.        Yoder's Doctrine of solidarity elaborated in four ways:

 

                        1.         "First, solidarity communicates God's intention for human salvation, redemption, and participation. Christ's resurrection implies the resurrection of all human beings." p. 369.

 

                        2.         "Second, Christ's act of solidarity empowers a new form of logical and theological `reasoning by solidarity'.

 

                                    a.         "The solidarity of the Christian community with Christ intimately relates the act of personal regeneration with an eschatological vision and hope in a world radically transformed and converted.

 

                                    b.         "Solidarity results in the setting right of personal relationships in conformity to a vision of restored communion and consequently restored capacity to obedience." p. 370.

 

                        3.         "Third, Christ's expression of solidarity with humanity through the cross witnesses to a descriptive and normative reversibility of the community with Christ, `the exchanged of character of Christ in our place and we in His'." p. 370.

 

                        4.         "Fourth, Christ's posture in this relationship of solidarity provides a foundation and grounding--an image and model--of what is substantively required of the Christian community in posture and action.

 

                                    a.         "Christ the King, rather than being exalted, is humbled; rather than reveal himself in pomp, he exists among humanity in a station of little worldly note;

 

                                    b.         rather than shape the direction of history to his own ends and goals, he rejects the use of the methods and powers of the world; ..." p. 370.

 

            E.        Characteristics of Yoder's methodology:

 

                        1.         "Yoder's approach is phenomenological. Christ's presence and work is experienced and understood in lived situations of communal or personal transformation." p. 372.

 

                        2.         "Finally, Yoder's position is political.

 

                                    a.         "In opposition to a realist conception of politics (defined as the management of force, violence, and coercion by an elite as a means of directing events and outcomes)

 

                                    b.         Yoder argues for the fundamental political nature of Christian community construed as the establishing of individuals in community." p. 373.

 

            F.        Yoder's Understanding of the Authority of Scripture

 

                        1.         "First, biblical realism establishes the normativeness of Scripture and its grounding on the Word of God mediated and incarnate in the community of faith.

 

                                    a.         "Scripture itself witnesses to the essential datum of the community as the concrete embodiment of Scripture's witness.

 

                                    b.         "Yoder suggests that this communal hermeneutic is an essential prerequisite to the realization of the incarnation in history. God's purposes cannot be understood--Scripture and history cannot be deciphered--apart from the constituting of a community that confesses Christ as Lord." p. 374.

 

                        2.         "Second, biblical realism sets the terms and concepts of Christian theological and ethical discourse.

 

                                    a.         "Rather than simply approach Scripture as a depository of revelation that furnishes correct postures, strategies, and answers to questions, respect for the authority of Scripture requires that it be permitted to inform how one engages in interpretation.

 

                                    b.         "Scripture is thus a reservoir of inspired insight and a source of correction and constraint both at the level of substance (theological and ethical) and critical method.

 

                                    c.         "The hermeneutic of biblical realism is accepted not because it definitionally supports the authority of Scripture, but because it is the method witnessed to in Scripture." p. 375.

 

                        3.         "Third, biblical realism distances itself from fundamentalism and the advocates of a posture of propositional revelation, biblical legalism, and rigid casuistic reasoning in relating Scripture to changing contexts." p. 375.

 

                        4.         "But Scripture's most important task is not to prove or make a point on narrow questions of morality and politics. It is rather to set questions and agendas." p. 375.

 

                        5.         "Scripture's methodological imperative is that the Christian community remain open to the internal logic of the Word of God and explore conversationally and in full awareness of the base points of biblical realism the Gospel's implications for political community." p. 375.

 

                        6.         "Finally, biblical realism argues for the relevance of the biblical vision (though not its changing ideologies and strategies // of concretizing transcendent visions in history) to all times and places.

 

                                    a.         "Scripture's message of reconciliation and redemption witnessed to in Scripture is not logically dependent on any concrete ideological formulation, worldview, or cultural perception.

 

                                    b.         "It is a message that stands in creative tension with all human attempts to express it exhaustively." pp. 375-376.

 

            G.        Yoder's use of Christology for ethics

 

                        1.         "Christ's solidarity with humanity through his free choice of the cross empowers a like posture in the community of faith.

 

                        2.         "First, the cross witnesses to a distinctive and normative ethic of servanthood and sacrifice." p. 378.

 

                        3.         "The call for such a posture is the demand for a distinctive life-witness, established not in a framework of command-and-obedience to laws and rules, but rather based on the call of the community to `an exceptionally normal quality of humanness'.

 

                                    a.         "Yoder thus argues for a prescriptive use of Scripture,

 

                                    b.         but one premised on and cognizant of his christological and hermeneutic presuppositions." p. 379.

 

                        4.         "Second, the cross is the basis of a distinctly Christian political ethic." p. 379.

 

                        5.         Christian political community "is best understood in terms of a `nonconformed quality of involvement in the life of the world. It thereby constitutes an unavoidable challenge to the powers that be and the beginning of a new set of social alternatives'." p. 379.

 

                        6.         "Third, Yoder argues that the cross serves as the foundation for a new theology of history. The New Testament kerygma is a message of God's promise and its fulfillment enacted in the context of history.

 

                                    a.         "Christ's incarnation informs and shapes the meaning and possibilities of history.

 

                                    b.         "The profession of this fact--the elaboration of a new eschatological vision--is essential to the Christian witness." p. 380.

 

                        7.         "By underestimating the way in which sin has warped the ego and the rational and intellectual capacities of human beings, Constantinianism, more than many other political visions, incorrectly assumes that human beings can manage the causal relationship between events and desired outcomes.

 

                        8.         "Equally troublesome for Yoder is its tendency to assume the morally justified use of force, coercion, and violence in attaining proximate or ultimate ends." p. 382.

 

            H.        Love and Non-violence as Gospel Mandates

 

                        1.         "Christian morality is more than interpretive method and a concern with right motives, intentions, and religious // orientation.

 

                        2.         "It must embody as well the fundamentally other-regarding imperatives witnessed to by Christ.

 

                        3.         " Yoder's is a praxis-oriented morality, requiring the deliberative application of those imperatives to changing situations." pp. 384-385.

 

                        4.         "According to Yoder, nonviolence entails the willingness to renounce the power of the world and to reject a concern with efficacy for a position grounded in the prior claim of Christ." p. 385.

 

            I.         Justice for Yoder:

 

                        1.         "Justice is understood by Yoder to express a fundamental posture or orientation of righteousness toward God.

 

                        2.         "Such righteousness presupposes conversion--`likemindedness' with Christ--and membership in the Kingdom of God manifest as a participant in the witnessing community.

 

                                    a.         "But in addition to the necessity of such a religious orientation, justice as righteousness also embodies an attitude or disposition of concern and care for the neighbor.

 

                                    b.         "And in this regard the just Christian is called to act on these dispositions to creatively and efficaciously mediate God's love to others in concrete, tangible ways." p. 390.

 

                        3.         "For Yoder, the justice of the Kingdom is most fully embodied in the `hard sayings' of the Gospel as Jubilee and so possesses a fundamentally efficacious and other-regarding dimension.

 

                                    a.         "But this eschatological conception of justice differs both in fundamental orientation

 

                                    b.         and to a lesser degree in substance from `worldly' justice." p. 390.

 

                        4.         "The biblical mandate also informs procedural conceptions of justice. The Christian community cannot give unreserved support to specific forms of political economy (e.g. democratic capitalism, socialism)." p. 391.

 

            J.         Relationship of Church and State in Yoder

 

                        1.         "Since the Church alone is called to reflect and witness to the work of Christ, the state's most important task will be to `simply...keep things from falling apart so that the Church can do the work of the Kingdom'." p. 392.

 

                        2.         "According to Yoder, the state embodies a `necessity of orders' willed by God." p. 397.

 

                        3.         "While the Church is not to sacrifice its distinctiveness form the state, nor establish a `Christian cultural alternative' // to the prevailing ethos, neither should it exhibit a posture of `systematic withdrawal'." pp. 397-398.

 

                        4.         "Yoder's concern, then, is to frame the issue of the Christian's answer to the call of the state not in terms of `what can I do and still call myself a Christian',

 

                        5.         but in terms of `what does the Call ask of me, and can I be called to obey or collaborate with the state in light of the prior claim of Christ?'" p. 399.

 

            K.        Evaluation and Critique of Yoder

 

                        1.         Difficulty in taking a "prophetic" stance and making it "normative" for the entire Christian community.

 

                        2.         His exegesis is frankly a bit forced, and problematic with trying to discover a New Testament ethics as such.

 

                        3.         Positively, Yoder does take the Cross seriously.

 

                        4.         Challenges the common assumption that we have to make the world come out right.

 

                        5.         Prophetic vision, especially in regards to pacifism.

 

                        6.         Great influence on Hauerwas, but not a mainstream position.


 

XLV.  THE CHRISTIAN ETHICS OF STANLEY HAUERWAS

 

            A.        Background on Hauerwas

 

                        1.         Born in 1940 in Texas.

 

                        2.         Humble family background; non-academic.

 

                        3.         Ph.D. from Yale, under James Gustafson.

 

                        4.         Southern Methodist tradition, with fascination for Mennonites, who lived, taught, and worshiped for 14 years in the Roman Catholic community of UND.

 

                        5.         Colleague of John Howard Yoder.

 

                        6.         Brief look at Hauerwas' publications to see his major concerns and themes:

 

                                    a.         Community

 

                                    b.         Character

 

                                    c.         Virtue

 

                                    d.         Vision

 

                                    e.         Pacifist non-violence

 

            B.        Hauerwas' Premises on the Christian moral life

 

                        1.         What Christian morality is, and is not:

 

                                    a.         "The Christian life is more than a series of existential decisions or moments of obedience to a clear command of God." p. 93.

 

                                    b.         Significance for Hauerwas' theological anthropology, and its relation to moral formation--which he sees as the key task of Christian ethics:

 

                                    c.         [Spohn]: "We are not people whose morality emerges at occasional moments of decision,

 

                                    d.         but people with a gradually developing consistency that places those decisions in a personal context." p. 92.

 

            C.        Notion of Christian Character and Virtue

 

                        1.         Transformation of character which serves as the central aspect of Christian discipleship.

 

                        2.         Concomitant use of virtues which give a "consistency" to the self.

 

                                    a.         Hearkens back to the tradition of Aristotle and Aquinas.

 

                                    b.         While Aristotle and Aquinas present the virtues in general terms, and based on a discussion of human nature, and

 

                                    c.         therefore logically applicable to any human, Hauerwas uncovers "the normative virtues for Christians in the story of Jesus presented by the Gospels." p. 93.

 

            D.        Theological Use of the Christian Story

 

                        1.         "Hauerwas derived the notion of story from H. Richard Niebuhr, but he departs from Niebuhr on three points.

 

                                    a.         First, the Gospel narrative presents a more specific call than the exploratory discernment that uses biblical symbols to interpret events.

 

                                    b.         Second, Hauerwas corrects Niebuhr's `intuitionism' by presenting a normative pattern of conscious virtuous dispositions.

 

                                    c.         Third, he insists that the Church must be the location for reflecting on what God is doing in one's life." [Spohn, p. 93].

 

                                    d.         Example of Hauerwas' Resident Aliens

 

                        2.         Use of Scripture to discover the Christian story

 

                                    a.         "The moral use of Scripture, therefore, lies precisely in its power to help us remember the story of God for the continual guidance of our community and individual lives." [A Community of Character, p. 66]

 

                                    b.         "The three foundations of his argument are:

 

                                                (1)       the narrative, which shapes Christian life,

 

                                                (2)       the community of the Church as the place where Scripture has authority, and

 

                                                (3)       the inadequacy of more philosophical accounts of Christian ethics." [Spohn, p. 93].

 

                        3.         Nicholas Lash's Notion of "Performing the Scriptures"

 

                                    a.         Cf. Lash's Theology on the Way to Emmaus, (London: SCM Press, 1986), pp. 37-46.

 

                                    b.         the social embodiment of Christian life necessary for interpreting Scripture entails `performing the Scriptures' under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

                                    c.         "Christian practice, as interpretative action, consists in the performance of texts which are construed as `rendering', bearing witness to, one whose words and deeds, discourse and suffering, `rendered' the truth of God in human history.

 

                                    d.         "The performance of the New Testament enacts the conviction that these texts are most appropriately read as the story of Jesus, the story of everyone else, and the story of God." [Lash, p. 42]

 

            E.        A "Story-Defined" Disciple

 

                        1.         Example of Jesus' rebuke of Peter in Mk 8:31-36:

 

                                    a.         Mark 8:31-33: Rebuke of Peter

 

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

 

                                    b.         Mark 34-36: Conditions for discipleship

 

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

 

                        2.         "Either this story changes Peter and the other hearers so that they embark on that fateful journey, or else they cease to be Jesus' disciples." p. 94.

 

                        3.         "For Hauerwas, like Niebuhr, Christian ethics aims to transform the self-understanding of the agent. Here the dominant story that shapes the character of the would-be disciples clashes with the story of Jesus." [Spohn, p. 94]

 

            F.        A "Story-Defined" Community

 

                        1.         Philosophical Premise and starting point: "No Man is an Island"

 

                                    a.         "What we do and how we do it are ultimately rooted in a way of life, a story that shapes our self-understanding and that of the communities to which we belong.

 

                                    b.         No one can have a completely private story: a way of life is always determined by a specific community to which //we are loyal." [Spohn, pp. 94-95].

 

                        2.         Function of the Story for the Community

 

                                    a.         "An adequate and effective community story encourages its adherents to face the particular challenges and tragedies of life.

 

                                    b.         Christians, however, believe the story of Jesus not because of its functional value in ordering life but because of its truthfulness. ...

 

                                    c.         What kind of people does this community and its story produce?" [Spohn, p. 95]

 

                        3.         Connection with Hauerwas' ecclesiology

 

                                    a.         "The life of the Church is the acid test of the truthfulness of its story. It must live up to its proclamation or it gives the lie to the Gospel." p. 95.

 

                                    b.         "The primary social task of the Church is to be itself authentically.

 

                                    c.         It may challenge secular society on specific issues, but on specific issues, but it must first be visibly different from the world." [Spohn, p.95].

 

            G.        A Community of Character and the Valid Interpretation of Scripture, the Christian Story

 

                        1.         Point developed by Stephen Fowl and L. Gregory Jones in their Reading in Communion: Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1991).

 

                        2.         Relation between ethos and use of Scripture.

 

                        3.         Recall H. Richard Niebuhr's concept of "evil imaginations of the heart."

 

                        4.         Use the example of the South African Dutch Reformed Church: "The rise of the theological and scriptural superstructure that supports apartheid with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRC) provides a further example of the interrelationships between character and interpretation." p. 96.

 

                        5.         "It was only after apartheid had received its theological rationalization and was the status quo, however, that large-scale biblical justifications of this situation were offered.

 

                        6.         The most systematic and comprehensive of these accounts came out in 1974 under the title Human Relations and the South African Scene in the Light of Scripture." p. 98.

 

                                    a.         Dutch Reformed Church, Cape Town-Pretoria, 1974. Official English translation of Ras, Volk en Naise en Volkereverhoudinge in die lig van die Skrif,

 

                                    b.         which was accepted by the DRC's General Synod in October, 1974.

 

                        7.         "... the document claims that while God affirms the solidarity of humanity, God also ordains ethnic diversity.

 

                        8.         "The document goes on to assert that this diversity can best be maintained by the practices of separation institutionalized in apartheid." p. 98.

 

                        9.         Fowl and Jones' critique of the weaknesses of such interpretation

 

                                    a.         Methodological certainly, but more fundamentally,

 

                                    b.         a flaw in the community's character, which in turn led to and supported the flawed biblical interpretation.

 

                                    c.         "This failure is not simply a failure of interpretive method; it is a failure to have a well-formed character capable of faithful interpretive practice." p. 99.

 

                                    d.         Gravity of the problem:

 

                                                (1)       "When distortions of character enter and deeply permeate the life of any Christian community,

 

                                                (2)       that community loses its ability to read Scripture in ways that would challenge and correct its character.

 

                                                (3)       Scripture simply becomes a mirror reflecting a community's self-deceptions back to itself disguised as the word of God.

 

                                                (4)       This is what happened to the DRC. It lost the ability to read Scripture over against itself;

 

                                                (5)       it lost the ability to hear the critical, prophetic voice of Scripture." p. 99.

 

                        10.       Ethos, the individual and the community

 

                                    a.         Need to develop this above section in conjunction with a sustained treatment of ethos.

 

                                    b.         It also would point up one of the weaknesses of an individually based meta-ethics,

 

                                    c.         i.e., the community dimension, and how to come to terms with it.

 

                        11.       Prophetic denunciation of the community's ethos

 

                                    a.         "If and when a community becomes unable to hear the word of the Lord rightly

 

                                    b.         because of deeply embedded character distortions,

 

                                    c.         it gets caught in the downward spiral of mutually reinforcing failures of character and interpretation.

 

                                    d.         In such situations, a prophet like Jeremiah,

 

                                                (1)       one who can stand on the fringes of that community

 

                                                (2)       and yet address the word of the Lord to the community in its own language,

 

                                                (3)       may be the only one who can break the downward spiral." [Fowl & Jones, Reading, p. 102].

 

            H.        Normative nature of the Story: Testing its truth

 

                        1.         Return to the theology of Stanley Hauerwas

 

                        2.         Inadequacy of the natural law according to Hauerwas

 

                                    a.         "at best negatively limits action: it cannot tell us what to do, even though it may indicate something that is inappropriate for our humanity." p. 97.

 

                                    b.         Previous attempts at natural law are now seen to be culturally or historically time-bound: e.g. acceptance of slavery, subordination of women. "They were natural only to those who shared that limited cultural story." p. 97.

 

                        3.         Inadequacy of Kantian universalism according to Hauerwas

 

                                    a.         "attempts to transcend cultural differences by appealing to a common rationality." [p. 97]

 

                                    b.         "Hidden agenda":

 

                                                (1)       It embodies a story that is largely unrecognized:

 

                                                (2)       the story of self-sufficient free agents who deal with each other as strangers, not as members of communities with committed roles.

 

                                                (3)       Cf. John Rawls' approach to justice.